Celebrating Cesar Chavez with Ancho Chile Bean Sauce

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…The people who give you their food give you their heart.”

Cesar Chavez

I began typing this post late last night as I usually do with every post.  There was peace and quiet. The day had ended, everyone was asleep, dishes put away and I was left at the kitchen table, alone.  I began to flood the page with endless words about my love for beans,  again.  As I glanced over to check my calender for tomorrow’s schedule I realized I had completely forgotten that this Thursday was Cesar Chavez’s birthday, when his National Holiday is celebrated.

“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.”

Cesar Chavez


As a child of a migrant worker Cesar Chavez is one of our heroes.  Each year my mother and her siblings would complete the school year in Brownsville, Texas and my grandfather would load the family for a summer spent in California working the fields.  Each summer was spent picking fruit or vegetables side by side with her family.  The money earned would help to pay for the family home, taxes and help support them for the year.


I often ask my mother about her summer’s spent in California and her eyes brighten with memories.  She loved her summer’s spent on the land.  She enjoyed seeing her cousins who lived in California, but spent their summers alongside her working.  She looked forward to her weekends at the local flea market purchasing new records, trying on bell bottoms she found at discount prices and her cousins urging her to go out with them to check out a new band they had just heard of “The Doors.”  Did she go? No, my mom was, remains her daddy’s girl who never left his side.  


When I think of Cesar Chavez as a current student, who one day hopes to finally complete her degree in Mexican American History.  I can only give thanks.  I thank him for fighting for the rights of every migrant worker, fighting to educate the young and fighting to help his culture stay strong. So today I leave you with a modest dish, a dish I can imagine Cesar enjoying with a quirky smile.   

“We are confident. We have ourselves. We know how to sacrifice. We know how to work. We know how to combat the forces that oppose us. But even more than that, we are true believers in the whole idea of justice. Justice is so much on our side, that that is going to see us through.”

Cesar Chavez

“Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.”

Cesar Chavez

Ancho Chile Bean Sauce

by Sweet Life

by Vianney Rodriguez

serves 4

pasta of your choice

1 cup cooked pinto beans

2 chile ancho

2 garlic cloves, with skin

3 roma tomatoes

8 oz mushrooms (optional)

1/2 cup crema mexicana (or heavy whipping cream)

2 tbsp olive oil


freshly ground pepper

for garnish

queso fresco


Place chiles in medium sauce pan and cover with water, heat to a boil, remove from heat and set aside until soft about 20 minutes.  After chiles become soft, removes stem and seeds.

On a roasting pan place roma tomatoes and garlic, roast at 450 degrees until skin becomes blackened and garlic is soft, about 8 minutes. Keep on eye on garlic as it soften quicker than tomatoes. 

In blender place cooked beans, tomatoes, garlic and chiles. Blend until smooth, if the mixture is too thick add either water or broth from beans 1/2 cup at a time to help move it along.

In a large saute pan on medium heat add olive oil. When oil has heated add mushrooms if using and saute until tender about 5 minutes, add blended bean puree and crema mexican.  Stir to combine and cook until sauce is warm.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine with cooked pasta and garnish with cilantro and queso fresco. 




  1. says

    What a wonderful life to honor and such a tasty way to honor it! Loved your mother’s story too.

    I taught migrant students many years ago. They were some of the most respectful, hard working students ever. Their parents wanted them to do well in school and not live the same hard life they did and those values transfered into the classroom.

  2. says

    Many migrant workers are hired in our parts…and I honestly don’t think they all hold the memories your Mom had during her summer contracts. Glad to read that she extracted the best from this experience.

    Mr. Chavez was certainly a blessing and a great example to his people and so many others that were inspired by his courage.
    Beautiful tribute to the special persons that reflect from your lovely heart Bonnie ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  3. says

    Sí, se puede and so it was done… too late for the many earlier laborers but how fortunate we are for the ones that followed, even though justice for the real workers is many times just a thin coating of sugary layers…
    this sounds like a wonder bean sauce, really vibrant in flavor and with pasta? just shows how much depth it must have…

  4. says

    Thank you for reminding of the meaning that Cesar Chavez still has for thousands in our country today. What a man! Even though I have a heavy heart tonight, I find joy in reading your words and seeing your dish. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your creativity with me. I hope you have a blessed end to your week!

  5. says

    Bonnie what a lovely tribute both to Cesar Chavez and your mom. I also had family that worked the fields and my big high school paper was on this honorable man. I think it’s lovely that you are celebrating and no of us should ever forget all that he did for so many. The pasta looks delicious and beautiful! (P.S. could you send me your YBR info please, the roundup is tomorrow so I need it asap. Gracias:) )

  6. says

    Oh Bonnie what a sweet post and great tribute to a great man! You’ve more than done him justice with this dish…it’s bursting with flavor! I can almost smell it through the screen.

  7. says

    A humble, yet vibrant dish. What a telling story about your mother’s childhood. I am really surprised and happy to hear that she holds happy memories of her summers as a migrant worker. Everytime I travel and drive by fields filled with migrant workers, my heart is so heavy as I feel the people are taken advantage of and it hurts to see how hard they have to work to make a living for their family. But, working together as a family is a healthy thing. Clearly your grandfather was a strong and positive family man and made this experience for your mother’s family a positive one. I am so surprised, also, that the amount of money made could sustain the family for the year! I know they are not paid well…
    Your mother sounds like she is from my era. I share some of her pop culture memories. :)
    This dish sounds delicious and I think would be a very good choice for our meal tonight. I have everything – even the ancho chilis… they are dried. I have never seen a fresh one.

  8. says

    Love your story of your mother’s memories. She sounds so much like my mother. It’s lovely to read more about your background. Thanks for sharing! And as always — the food looks delicious! ~Yvette

  9. says

    What a thoughtful piece about a very important man. Thank you for sharing your memories. And thank you for this delicious-sounding dish!

  10. says

    Simple, delicious and beautifully respectful of a very good man. Once upon a time, my ex-boyfriend worked on some of Mr. Chavez’s lawsuits. We stopped eating grapes for quite awhile.


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