Preparation / Directions:
This dish is Mexican/Southwestern in concept. It's a bit like a salad of greens, where black beans substitute for the lettuce and the rather large dose of lime juice makes it surprisingly refreshing. It travels well and is better the day after it's made: a good accompaniment to hot or cold grilled meat. You can also add cold grilled meat directly to the salad and turn it into an entree.
Sort the beans carefully, discarding any small pebbles that may be mixed in. Soak the beans in cold water to cover for 5 hours, then drain and rinse them well.
Put the beans in a saucepan and add enough water to come about 1 1/2 inches above them.
Add the thyme, salt, fennel seed, garlic, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender but not mushy.
Drain the beans and rinse them under cold water for 1 minute to stop the cooking process. Drain them again.
In a large bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and mix well. Add the beans, toss, and serve. This salad keeps for 4 to 5 days covered and refrigerate