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Friday, October 14, 2005

How to make vegetarian pinto beans if you're desperate. Put 2 pounds of pinto beans in the largest pot you have (at least 3 quarts) and cover them with water, about 2-3 inches over the top of the beans. Soak overnight. Discard soaking water, replace with fresh and put beans on a medium flame to boil. (You might want to put a lid on the pot to speed this up, but leave it slightly ajar or your beans will boil over.) Add one finely chopped onion, four garlic cloves and about a tablespoon of salt. (You can substitute a tablespoon of boullion if you like.) Boil, partially covered, for about 90 minutes, or till the beans are tender. These freeze nicely, by the way, and are a heck of a lot cheaper than canned if you're trying to save money. Once they're thawed, they practically fall apart and are very easy to turn into refritos.


  • At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Melody said…

    I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you posting this simple bean cooking recipe. I've been a vegetarian for 18 years and this is the first time I've cooked dried beans and they've been edible. Not only edible, but delicious!

    I wish you well on your road to recovery.

  • At 1:24 PM, Blogger Carny said…

    Thanks! You might also like this one, although it's Cuban rather than Mexican:

    Mercedes' simple black bean soup
    Soak 2lbs black turtle beans over night in a 3 qt. pot. Discard the water and put in fresh until it is about 1 inch over the beans. Add one finely chopped onion, 4 cloves garlic and a bay leaf and simmer the beans, partially covered, about an hour, stirring occasionally.

    Chop a second onion and a pepper (bell or spicy is up to your taste buds) and saute in olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add to the beans along with a 6 oz can of tomato paste, 1/2 cup red wine and more water, if necessary, to cover the beans.

    Simmer for 30 more minutes or until the beans are tender. About 5-10 minutes before serving, add a heaping teaspoon of brown sugar and stir it in.

    You can serve these over rice (traditional) or with a dab of plain yogurt (less traditional), and you can make black bean tostadas or burritos with the leftovers.

  • At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Melody said…

    Hi Carny,

    Mercedes' Black Bean Soup sounds heavenly! I'll try that one soon. Meanwhile, I was just back checking your blog to make sure I have the boiling time correct on the pintos.

    OH -- and I got one of those 15-bean soup bags at the grocery store the other day and cooked them, but they were -- well, weird. Any recommendations that don't involve ham or hambone? I don't eat meat.


  • At 9:30 AM, Blogger Carny said…

    I think the biggest problem with those 15-bean soup bags is that the beans are often not-very-fresh. Dried beans don't go bad, but they can go stale; I buy them in bulk from a store where the turnover is high and try to use them within 6 months of purchase. (Stale beans tend to be starchy and not very flavorful.)

    If you like bean soups and want to experiment more with vegetarian versions, the two cookbooks I would recommend are "Still Life With Menu" by Mollie Katzen and "The Moosewood Low-Fat Cookbook," which has a lot of bean-based recipes (beans are low-fat!).

    I rely on these cookbooks a lot because they use simple ingredients and methods; although they may involve long simmering or baking times, most of the dishes require no more than 1/2 hour prep. and you don't have to run out and buy truffle oil or some other darn thing you'll never cook with again.

    I like the Tuscan Bean Soup from "Still Life" and the Bean and Bean Gumbo from "Low-fat Moosewood." I've served the Bean and Bean Gumbo with some quickly-grilled pieces of Andouille sausage on the side and kept both the vegetarians and the non-vegetarians at the table very happy.


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