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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Nellie: Pinto Beans

I use pinto beans in lots of dishes, but my favorite way to eat them is just a bowl of pinto beans topped with fresh chopped onion and served with cornbread.

I usually cook my pinto beans with the following:

chopped bacon, bacon grease, or olive oil 
             (just a couple of tablespoons for a 1-lb bag of dried beans)
1-2 tablespoons of chili powder

In a large pot, boil them and boil them some more. Cooking time depends on whether you pre-soaked them or not.  If you didn't pre-soak, you'll have to add extra water because the bean will absorb a lot of it.

When they start getting soft, I usually take a potato masher and mash up some of them to make a thicker, more stew-like pot liquor.

Once they're soft enough to chew, they're done.

Garnish with your favorite toppings.


The following information, including how to cook pinto beans, came from The World's Healthiest Foods web site.

Health Benefits of Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, pinto beans' high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, pinto beans provide virtually fat-free, high quality protein. But this is far from all pinto beans have to offer. Pinto beans are also an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of folate, and a good source of protein and vitamin B1 as well as the minerals phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

(for more information on the health benefits of pinto beans, go to

Tips for Preparing Pinto Beans

Before washing pinto beans, spread them on a light-colored plate or cooking surface to check for small stones, debris or damaged beans. Then, place the beans in a strainer, rinsing them thoroughly under cool running water.

To shorten cooking time and make them easier to digest, pinto beans should be presoaked (presoaking has been found to reduce the raffinose-type oligosaccharides, sugars associated with causing flatulence.) There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each, start by placing the beans in a saucepan with two to three cups of water per cup of beans.

The first method is to boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours. The second method is to simply soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the pan in the refrigerator so beans will not ferment. Before cooking, regardless of method, drain the soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water.

The Healthiest Way of Cooking Pinto Beans

To cook the beans, you can either cook them on the stovetop or use a pressure cooker. For the stovetop method, add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, simply skim it off during the simmering process. Pinto beans generally take about one to one and one-half hours to become tender using this method.

They can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they take about one-half hour to prepare. Regardless of cooking method, do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after beans have been cooked; adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

- Use pinto beans in chili recipes in place of kidney beans.  [Or in Tortilla Soup]
- Blend together pinto beans with sage, oregano, garlic and black pepper for a delicious spread that can be used as a crudité dip or sandwich filling.
- Layer cooked pinto beans, chopped tomatoes and onions and shredded cheese on a tortilla. Broil in the oven until hot and cheese melts. Top with chopped avocado and cilantro.
- Add pinto beans to vegetable soups.
- Heat pinto beans together with cooked rice. Add cooked chopped vegetables such as carrots, zucchini and tomatoes. Season to taste and enjoy this simple-to-prepare one pot meal.

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