about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

    Contact Emily

    For general inquires, contact: EmilyBMalone@gmail.com.

    For partnerships, contact: dailygarnishads@mediakix.com.

    Looking forward to chatting with you!


    What’s Cooking?

    Personal Bests

    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.

Caramelized Onion Black Bean Sauce.

I’ve been in the mood for pasta recently, but we’ve been getting sick of having the same old marina sauce on top week after week.  This week I set out to make something new – something different, and something unexpected.

This black bean sauce somehow manages to tasty creamy without actually using any cream.  The onions give a subtle sweetness, and the red pepper flakes bring the heat.  It is perfect over pasta or squash, or I could even see drizzling it over top of a burrito or Mexican tortilla bowl.  Or over NACHOS.  Holy cow.

Caramelized Onion Black Bean Sauce

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Print this recipe!

Ingredients:  (serves 3-4)

  • 1 large sweet yellow or white onion
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • pasta or squash to serve over
  • cheese for topping (optional)

Instructions:  Start by dicing onions and adding to a saucepan over low/medium heat.  They key to caramelizing onions is letting them cook LOW and SLOW.  This takes time.  And patience.

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My original plan for our sauce was to serve it spaghetti-squash style over this new little gem I found at the grocery store this week – a stripetti squash.  I had never cooked with one of these before, but my research told me that it should taste like a cross between spaghetti squash and delicata – yum!

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My first clue that the stripetti was in fact very different from the spaghetti squash should have come when I tried to cut it in half.  The outer shell was SO HARD, I literally could not get a knife through it.  I ended up having to swallow my pride and ask Casey for help, and then even he needed at least 15 minutes and a good arm workout to hack it into four pieces. 

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Okay back to the sauce.  Allow the onions to cook low and slow for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You want them to be melt-in-your-mouth soft, and warm brown in color.

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Once the onions are ready, add black beans, water, bay leaf, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt.  Bring the mixture up to a simmer and then reduce heat to allow for just a slight simmer (uncovered).  Let mixture simmer for 30 minutes.

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While I waited, my squash cooked and I enjoyed coffee and a magazine on the couch with Indy.  If you look carefully you will see that my giant belly has become a nice cup holder.

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After letting the sauce cook for at least 30 minutes, remove bay leaf and transfer the rest of the mixture to a food processor (or blender).  Process until beans and onions are completely pureed.  Season to taste with salt.

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At this point I checked my squash to see if all my components were ready.  Imagine my surprise to discover that after an hour of baking it was still rock hard.  Guess what I learned this week?  Stripetti squash actually takes more like 2-3 hours to cook!  Good to know.

And good thing I had some extra brown rice spaghetti in the pantry.  I quickly boiled a box of it and improvised our dinner while my sauce patiently waited.

Finally, the pasta was ready, the sauce was served over top, and the whole bowl was sprinkled with Daiya pepper jack shreds (which were new to me, and kind of weird).

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This sauce is such a great alternative to traditional pasta sauce.  It is unexpected, with just enough slight sweetness and spice to make every bite interesting. 

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I think the possibilities for using this are truly endless.  Pasta, squash, salads, tacos, tofu – I can keep going…

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49 Comments so far
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Erin     at 5:06 pm

This looks amazing!!


Lisa D     at 5:08 pm

This is so creative! I bet it would be great inside burritos as well, or maybe used to thicken up a veggie chili. Can’t wait to try it.


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen     at 5:16 pm

How did you even think of that combination?! It sounds so good. I love how Indy looks right at the camera for the picture. So well trained. ;)


Danielle     at 5:20 pm

Yum!! Caramelized onions and black beans are two of my favorites… I definitely have to make this!


erica     at 5:26 pm

this kind of reminds me of a korean black bean noodle dish, that i loooove. i think i’m going to try this!!!


Michelle     at 5:26 pm

Your belly cup holder is adorable!

As much as I love squash, I don’t eat it as much as I’d like to because I ALWAYS have that much trouble cutting into it. I made spaghetti squash last week, and I had to use two chef’s knives because my first knife got stuck. I’ve heard that you can microwave a squash first to make it easier to cut into, but I wonder if that would affect the taste and flavor after roasting it. Any thoughts or tips?


Sabina Reply:

If you microwave the squash first, make sure you pierce the outside of it with a fork a few times.


Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)     at 5:28 pm

Black beans and onion are really quite magical! I guess the carb cravings are you getting ready for the big race! You look great Emily. I know you two much be so excited!


Army Amy*     at 5:32 pm

Yummy! I can’t wait to try this!*


Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday     at 5:37 pm

I always used to make a black bean dip by throwing black beans, among other things, in a food processor. It really does come out creamy!


Krystina (Organically Me)     at 5:48 pm

Real pasta is better than spaghetti squash anyway. :P

This sauce looks like something that would be great as a topper for enchiladas!


Sara @ RunnerWife     at 5:51 pm

This looks delicious!! You are making my hungry while sitting here :)


Kat     at 6:02 pm

Yum! Random question…did you and Casey go vegan? Just realizing most of your recipes and restaurants have been vegan lately and wondering if I missed a post!


chelsey @ clean eating chelsey     at 6:10 pm

Definitely trying this sauce this weekend! I don’t have black beans – how do you think white beans will taste?


Priyanka     at 6:28 pm

This is such a delicious alternative to regular ole’ tomato sauce! Love it!


Brittany @ Pretty Fit, Pretty Healthy, Pretty Happy     at 6:38 pm

Looks delicious! I was going to ask if that was Daiya cheese! I use their cheddar version with a lot of breakfast food like eggs and hash browns. It’s pretty good as far as dairy substitutes go.


Meredith     at 8:08 pm

I want to try this with the cannellini beans I have in my pantry… I think I’m fresh out of black beans.


Brittany     at 8:37 pm

YUM!!! Thanks!!


Julie (A Case of the Runs)     at 9:16 pm

So creative! Makes me want nachos!!


Elise     at 3:28 am

So creative! A tip about daiya cheese (forgive me if this is obvious/you did this!) – I find that I really REALLY need to make sure it melts all the way, otherwise it is just completely different and not my fave.


Emily @ Life on Food     at 3:46 am

What a great idea! I love black beans and this sounds so so so delicious!


Shady     at 4:48 am

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your recipes. I’ve never made anything off your site that did me wrong. And this, I’m so excited about this. You’ve inspired my dinner tonight. Thanks!


ally     at 5:13 am

Hi Emily,

Love your blog! Have you ever made a green smoothie in your food processor? I am looking to purchase one and it sounds like the one you have has really great reviews, but I would also like to use it to make smoothies. Thought I would check to see if you had any feedback. Thank you! :)


Cassie @ Naturally Cassie     at 5:30 am

I would have never thought to combined a black bean sauce with spaghetti squash, thanks for the tip!


Deva at deva by definition     at 5:46 am

This looks like such a yummy sauce! And so versatile, omg all the possibilities!


Hannah N.     at 5:54 am

ohmygosh this looks sooo good!!


Emily     at 5:59 am

It kind of looks like a healthier veggie-version of skyline! I am sure it tastes MUCH better though. I will be trying this one!


Lizzie @TheWeekdayVegan     at 6:22 am

How was the Daiya Pepperjack? I’ve always seen it at Whole Foods, but the spotted-orange-red color of it always creeps me out. How did it taste?


Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers     at 6:22 am

Thats looks good! I think I may make this for dinner tonight! Hope Hubby likes it!! It’s got onions in it, so how couldn’t he?


Dorsa     at 6:38 am

That sounds fantastic!


Heather @ girlyeverafter     at 6:52 am

I’ve been on a caramelized onion kick lately so this looks really awesome! The picture of Indy and you cracks me up. I love how the pregnant lady is having to strech her legs over the couch and the pup has the most confortable spot. haha I do the same for my dog too;)


Heather @ Get healthy with heather     at 8:03 am

This sounds delicious! Kind of a Mexican spaghetti… Packed with protein! I love caramelized onions sooooo much.


Marie     at 8:21 am

YUM!! adding this to the list of must-make!! and over nachos- YES!
Sidenote- I see you’re reading FitPregnancy… what do you think of the magazine? worth a subscription? thanks!!


Alison @ Hospitality Haven     at 8:24 am

Delicious!! I love having alternatives to marinara sauce because although we are not vegetarians, we have tons of friends who are, and I love having a protein-filled pasta sauce that still tastes delicious! Thanks. :)


Michaela     at 9:13 am

what a great recipe!!
Can´t wait to try it.


Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}     at 9:15 am

Oooh I’m thinking nachos! Looks great.


Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef     at 9:32 am

oh goodness, this sounds amazing. i have been on a black bean kick lately. this would be fantastic!


Amber K     at 10:26 am

I love the mozzarella Daiya, but the cheddar tasted too much like Velveeta to me. I can’t even imagine with the pepper jack would taste like. Ugh, it’s recipes like these that make me really wish I could have onions! It looks soo good!


Ali @ Around the VeggieTable     at 10:53 am

I love this! Something totally different and unexpected…and I already have a spaghetti squash ready to go for dinner tonight :) Thanks!


Chase - the CHASE project     at 11:03 am

Looks delicious! I will definitely give this a try! Although I’m not a pasta person so this bad boy is goin’ on some nachos :)


Lu     at 11:29 am

I love everything bean so this looks great to me. I make a pasta with basil, mozzarella and cannelini beans that turns out really creamy. I’m going to give this one a try. Yummy!


Elise     at 12:19 pm

This looks delish, I’m gonna try it, along with a bunch of your other Fall Favourites.


Autumn Tao     at 3:06 pm

2 tips for ya mama… (1) Daiya really only works, my opinion, when melted. It was incredible over the enchiladas I made per your recipe! (2) If you puncture a few holes in the squash and nuke it for 3 or 4 minutes, it is very easy to cut into. That’s how I cut up butternut.


aubrey     at 8:01 am

This is an absolute beautiful post. It has been so fun to watch your pregnancy from the very beginning. Even though I am no where close to having babies, you made it really exciting for me!


Debbi     at 1:27 pm

I make this kind of squash all the time. Here is what I do: jab it with a knife to poke holes in it, microwave for 5 minutes; cut in half, clean out seeds, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for about 7 minutes. Check and see if it bends when you squeeze it – that will indicate it is done. Remove wrap and score with a fork – I leave it shredded in the shell and add my topping. My hubby and I each eat half.


Alexis @ hummusapien     at 3:20 pm

this reminds me of skyline chilli! I’m gonna make it tomorrow…may have to add some cinnamon and cocoa powder!


Lyn @ Life Lyn Style     at 12:16 pm

For cutting your squash… buy a wallboard saw. $4 at a hardware store. You’ll be glad you did.


Claudine @ The Kathmanduo     at 3:45 am

I just made this sauce, and it is fantastic. It’s just a shame that it may never be used as intended — as a sauce — because I cannot stop spoon-feeding it straight to my mouth. Thank you for a delicious recipe, and congratulations on Cullen!


Emily Malone Reply:

Yummmmm. So glad you liked it! :)


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