Black Bean Cakes with Margarita Shrimp

I’m forever amazed and enchanted by the versatility of the black bean.

On its own, or with brown rice, it’s the perfect meal-in-a-bowl — topped with pico, chopped avocado, a dollop of creme fraiche and a squeeze of lime. Rolled up in a tortilla with a spoonful (or two) of salsa and shredded cheese. Stuffed into an empanada with goat cheese. Or into ravioli, as I did recently. Pureed and spiked with chiles for a dip. Made into its own pico, with corn.

Or, as I demonstrate here, fried into fat little cakes, and topped with Margarita Shrimp.

I came up with both of these recipes last year in Paris, because I thought that they’d be fun to demonstrate for my cooking classes.

I hope y’all like them, too.

If you don’t have time to make Margarita Shrimp, don’t worry. These Black Bean Cakes are great on their own — with a bit of salsa, or topped with a fried egg, ranchero sauce, and a bit of guac, for brunch.

Enjoy the show.

Black Bean Cakes


6 cups cooked black beans
1 medium green bell pepper, 1/4-inch dice
1 medium red bell pepper, 1/4-inch dice
½ medium onion, 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
sea salt
1 tablespoon canola oil


1. Blend black beans with potato masher* and set aside.

2. To the bean mixture, add onion, red and green bell pepper, and garlic. Add cumin, chili powder and salt.

3. Put canola oil in large, cast-iron skillet and turn heat on medium-high. Cook beans until they start to dry out and thicken. Remove from heat and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Note: All of this can be done in advance. Once the beans have cooled off, you may want to cover them until you want to make the cakes.

4. When ready to make the black bean cakes, put the second tablespoon of canola oil in the skillet, and cook cakes until crisp on each side, about ten minutes total.

5. Top with Margarita Shrimp and cilantro.

*Cowgirl Tip: I like the old fashioned, hand-held potato masher to make my refried beans, because I don’t like them to be too smooth. If you’re a smooth-lovin’ bean person, just get out the hand blender and whip it. Whip it good.

Margarita Shrimp

I wanted to add shrimp to my black bean cakes, but here in Paris, the shrimp come already cooked, so the recipe itself was an experiment. I didn’t know if the flavors would come together, but they did. If fresh shrimp are available, use the same ingredients, but just add a tablespoon of olive oil and/or butter, cook the garlic, then the shrimp, and add the rest at the end. Either way, it’s so easy!


16 medium shrimp, cooked, peeled and cleaned
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tequila (blanco)
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 lime
sea salt
splash Cointreau


1. Put shrimp in a bowl, and add garlic, cilantro, tequila, Cointreau, juice of half a lime, and salt.

2. Let marinate for a half hour.

3. Spoon on top of warm black bean cakes, along with a sprinkle of cilantro.