Spicy black bean burrito bowls with cashew + hemp seed chipotle sauce

Spicy black bean burrito bowls with cashew + hemp seed chipotle sauce

When we lived downtown, we were half a block away from the Illegal Pete’s on 16th Street Mall, which was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I could eat a $4 (kids) burrito bowl for dinner and call it a night. But a curse because I can be pretty lazy when it comes to dinner (I’d happily eat cereal every night if Thom would let me get away with it), so I’d go for that $4 burrito bowl more often than not.

Like most things, we eventually got burnt out. Well, that’s what Thom says. I think it was less about us getting burnt out and more about the fact that we eventually moved and didn’t have an Illegal Pete’s within close proximity to our front door. Further proof that we didn’t get burnt out? I started making burrito bowls at home. And then, a few months later, we discovered that – come spring 2016 – Pete’s would be opening a new location just a few blocks east of our place. And although the thought of swapping the homemade variety with my former go-to is enticing, I recently ditched canned black beans for the dried variety. Meaning my next-level burrito bowls are no match for the ones that require me to put on pants and leave the house.


The UN has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. You might be wondering: What does this have to do with burrito bowls? What is a pulse? Why is this important? CAN YOU JUST GET TO THE RECIPE ALREADY?

1) This has everything to do with burrito bowls (considering beans are a staple) and 2) pulses are edible seeds from the legume family (all pulses are legumes but not all legumes are pulses). More specifically, they’re beans, dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas. 3) Here’s the deal. Pulses are nutrient dense (they’re loaded with fiber, protein, iron, etc.), meaning they’re good for your health. They’re super affordable, meaning they’re good for your bank account. And they have a low water footprint, are nitrogen-fixing, and give all sorts of good stuff back to the soil in which they’re grown, meaning they’re good for the environment (pulses are basically the future of sustainable agriculture). 4) Just give me a minute.

So what can you do? Well, for starters, you could take the pulse pledge and commit to eating pulses at least once a week. And then you can make your way through the delicious list of recipes that I rounded up in hopes it’ll tide you over until my next post about pulses – where I’ll round up even more recipes to make sure you guys are keeping good on your commitment to eat pulses at least 48 times, for the rest of this year.

Black bean + tempeh tacos with cashew cheese sauce
Spicy peanut stew with butternut squash + chickpeas
Veggie spaghetti with mushrooms and lentils from Wholehearted Eats
Roasted cauliflower and lentil tacos with creamy chipotle sauce from Cookie and Kate
Creamy French lentils with mushrooms and kale from The First Mess
Black lentil, sweet potato + kale chili with kabocha biscuits from Dolly and oatmeal
Dal stuffed sweet potatoes from Green Kitchen Stories
Spicy chickpea & sweet potato noodle soup from My New Roots
Red curry lentil stew from With Food + Love
Shallot + herb chickpea flatbread from What’s Cooking Good Looking

PSST! Not sure what to buy? This pulses shopping list should make things a little easier.

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Notes: I had a year old bag of black beans I tried using to make this recipe and they took HOURS to cook (they wound up in the trash). If your black beans have been sitting in your pantry for while, give them a soak the night before. If you’re not into spicy black beans, use a jalapeño pepper instead of one of the spicier varieties. Oh, and DO NOT SALT THE BEANS UNTIL THE VERY END (or else they won’t cook properly). Heads up: the chipotle sauce will thicken considerably once refrigerated. I usually mix in a bit more water as the days go on, but if you aren’t using the sauce right away, use the full 1 1/2 cups of water and it’ll be the perfect sauce consistency once chilled overnight. If you don’t have hemp hearts, you can easily omit them (along with 1/4 cup of the water). If you have trouble finding adobo sauce, you can use chipotle powder (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more as necessary) or just use this recipe for cashew cheese sauce.

UPDATE: I made the sauce recipe with an added 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and it was delicious.

This post is sponsored by North American Pulses. All opinions are my own, and I think we all should be eating more pulses because they’re real good for ya (and – BONUS! – they’re good for the environment, too).


Black beans
1/2 pound (about 1 1/4 cups) dried black beans, rinsed and checked for debris
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
1-2 spicy peppers, split and seeded
1/2 lime (make sure you check for seeds)
1 tablespoon refined coconut oil
Filtered water
A few heavy pinches of sea salt

Chipotle sauce
1 cup (124g) raw cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 cup (65g) hemp hearts
1 1/2 cups (180g) filtered water, divided
3 tablespoons (48g) fresh-squeezed lime juice
3-4 tablespoons (45-60g) adobo sauce
1/4 cup (18g) nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon (3g) fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

To make the burrito bowls
Cooked brown rice
Spicy black beans
, from above
Chipotle salsa
Corn (I throw in a bit of finely chopped jalapeño)
Sliced avocado
Shredded cabbage
Cashew + hemp chipotle sauce, from above
Finely chopped cilantro
Hemp seeds

Add the black beans to a 2QT saucepan, along with the garlic, onion, pepper(s), lime, and coconut oil. Add water until the waterline is about 2 inches above the beans, then set the saucepan over medium heat and cover with a lid. Bring the beans to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for an hour, adding additional water as needed. Remove lid, along with the lime (and other aromatic vegetables, if desired), and continue simmering the beans on medium-low heat until soft; about 1 more hour. While simmering, you’ll likely have to replenish the water more than a few times to ensure the beans don’t cook dry. Once the beans are soft, cook until the waterline is level with the beans then set aside to cool. Once cool, transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. Will keep for up to five days.

To make the chipotle sauce, discard the soaking water and add the cashews and hemp seeds to the base of a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Add 1 cup of the water, lime juice, ancho chile sauce, nutritional yeast, salt, and spices, and blend on high speed until smooth; about 1-2 minutes. If using immediately, you’ll likely prefer the consistency with only 1 cup of water (you’ll have to water it down once chilled), but if you’re going to let it chill in the fridge overnight, add the remaining 1/2 cup of water and blend until smooth. Transfer sauce to an air tight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep for up to one week.

When you’re ready to assemble the bowls, layer the ingredients in the order above and enjoy. Maybe with a side of tortilla chips and a tangerine margarita.

Yield: Enough beans + sauce for 6-8 burrito bowls

Real life


  • Reply Katrina 31 January 2016 at 11:32 AM

    This post makes my heart sing!! I am so with you – eating pulses is not only a great idea but soooo delicious! I am totally saving this recipe. That hemp + cashew chipotle sauce sounds unreal!

  • Reply Sunday Swoon - Fork Knife Swoon 31 January 2016 at 1:16 PM

    […] Loving the sound of the cashew chipotle sauce + these black bean burrito bowls. […]

  • Reply Hannah | The Swirling Spoon 31 January 2016 at 2:21 PM

    I have totally taken the pulse pledge. This post made me feel so damn excited about eating pulses! And it educated me and reminded me of their awesomeness. So inspired to buy a big ol bag of beans and get soaking.

  • Reply Sarah | Well and Full 31 January 2016 at 3:07 PM

    I had no idea 2016 was named the year of the pulses!! But I’m stoked as pulses make up the bulk of my diet ;) And I think it says a lot about food trends that a plant-based food group was named as food of the year. Plant-based diets are becoming more and more popular and I’m really stoked about it!

  • Reply Hannah 31 January 2016 at 3:17 PM

    your photos have me salivating and its

    • Reply Hannah 31 January 2016 at 3:18 PM

      It’s only 8 am here! I guess its never to early for delicious beans :P

  • Reply Jessica Mironov 31 January 2016 at 5:13 PM

    Whoa! I thought you were also supposed to add acids at the very end of cooking beans for the same reason as the salt. Did your beans cook properly with that lime in there? It might have contributed to your long cooking time. Anyway, I’m all for the year of the pulse. Sign me up!

    • Reply Ashlae 31 January 2016 at 5:30 PM

      Hi Jessica –

      While true when using a considerable amount of juice, 1/2 lime made no difference in the cooking time or tenderness of the beans (compared to adding the lime toward the end). However, if you’re worried, feel free to throw it in once the beans are cooked through.

  • Reply Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Life 31 January 2016 at 6:41 PM

    I am already on the pulse wagon! I am a bean and legume loving vegetarian and I just can’t get enough of them :) I can’t wait to try these gorgeous, and delicious, burrito bowls. I just love all the tasty bits and pieces that come together to make up the awesome bowl :)

  • Reply Claudia 31 January 2016 at 7:24 PM

    Oh, this looks so amazingly mouthwatering. If I were to use canned beans in a pinch, how many cans would you suggest going with?

    • Reply Ashlae 31 January 2016 at 7:34 PM

      Hi Claudia –

      I’d go for two 14ish ounce cans!

  • Reply Sophie MacKenzie 31 January 2016 at 11:10 PM

    Heck, those are some aaamazing looking bowls. They’d beat my burrito joint any day! Got my beans and cashews soaking as we speak (…or type?)

  • Reply Tori 1 February 2016 at 2:13 AM

    This looks amazing! That sauce is seriously going to make me drool!

  • Reply Lan | MoreStomach 1 February 2016 at 10:03 AM

    in November we bought 20lbs of different/random beans and have been trying to not only figure out how to cook dried beans properly, but to come up with different ways to have beans every week without getting bored. i can now tell my husband, who came up with this idea of the winter of a bajillion beans, that he was ahead of the UN and their Year of International Pulses.

  • Reply Monday Coffee + Links - The Old Fashioned Girl 1 February 2016 at 12:42 PM

    […] Spicy black bean burrito bowls. I’m such a fan of burrito bowls, and this vegan one looks perfect! […]

  • Reply genevieve @ gratitude & greens 1 February 2016 at 2:57 PM

    I am so down for the year of pulses! Beans and legumes are super duper tasty and these burrito bowls look out of this world! If I could insert the heart eye emoji, I’d probably do it.

  • Reply elise 1 February 2016 at 6:37 PM

    hi, i was just wondering if you could suggest a substitute for hemp hearts in the sauce? i live in New Zealand, which has ridiculous laws about hemp for food :(

    • Reply Ashlae 2 February 2016 at 11:49 AM

      Hi Elise –

      I’ve included some notes about that in the portion just before the recipe!

  • Reply Amy | Lemon and Coconut 2 February 2016 at 6:57 AM

    Bring on year of pulses! Gorgeous food. I’d definitely recommend soaking any pulses :)

  • Reply Sofia 2 February 2016 at 2:29 PM

    I love it the International Year of the Pulses. Pulse, what a fancy name for those things I already eat quite a lot of and never gave it a second thought. I’m certain I already eat them once a week minimum, so now I pledge to do so even a teeny bit more often. Thanks for the roundup for inspiration. x

  • Reply immaEATthat and That and THAT - Yeah...Immaeatthat 3 February 2016 at 1:01 AM

    […] this for lunches & dinners for the next 3 […]

  • Reply dixya @ food, pleasure, and health 3 February 2016 at 4:59 AM

    i love pulses in general..so its awesome that this year is dedicated to just that. i have started to slow cook garbanzo beans on a weekly basis instead of a canned variety.. will have to start doing the same with black beans because i want to eat this like now!

  • Reply Jayme | holly & flora 3 February 2016 at 6:44 PM

    First of all, you put on pants to leave the house? I need to seriously make some changes, then. ;-) I am already a pulse-lover, and I didn’t even know that there was a technical term for them. You have my word {I pledge!!} that I’m going to make more bean bowls for breakfast. I’m in a rut right now, and I need to shake things up! And one day I’ll make you one of those tangerine margs….maybe with a dash of some super special bitters! XOXO!

  • Reply Simone Anne 4 February 2016 at 1:00 PM

    hahahaha, I adore you. pulses are my jam (although I am only now learning that that’s what they are) and giving up canned beans was the best thing I ever did. cheap, easy, and the home cooked variety tastes ten times better. sometimes I make chickpeas and taste one to confirm that they are ready and then all of a sudden I’ve “tasted” a whole bowl for lunch. haha.

  • Reply Heather 5 February 2016 at 8:33 AM

    I want to print that photo of the bowl of veggies and plaster it all over my kitchen. Then I want to make these burrito bowls and live on them forever. I love that you ditched canned black beans and are embracing the time consuming method of cooking them on the stove. But sister! Get yourself a slow cooker so you can throw them in and forget about it. It was one of the best purchases I ever made.

  • Reply Home Again + Links I Love 6 February 2016 at 5:35 AM

    […] nothing better than home cooking after being away. I made this yesterday ( spicy + delicious ), and this is on the agenda for dinner with friends […]

  • Reply Summer 6 February 2016 at 7:09 AM

    All this looks so nice, healthy and delicious ♥

  • Reply lynn @ the actor’s diet 6 February 2016 at 10:44 PM

    Saying “I eat pulses” sounds so bad-ass!

  • Reply Allysia 8 February 2016 at 10:19 AM

    Beautiful pictures as always, and I am absolutely going to have to make that chipotle sauce. Usually my burrito bowls are fairly boring, using salsa as a sauce. Time to switch it up!

  • Reply Thoroughly Nourished Finds. | Thoroughly Nourished Life 25 February 2016 at 9:09 PM

    […] bowls are the best. Hello, burrito in a bowl. I love this spicy black bean […]

  • Reply Kerianne 12 April 2016 at 1:35 PM

    These are amazing – that sauce! I made a hybrid of your bowl and Laura from The First Mess. SO delicious, thanks so much :)

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