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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beans Beans the Musical Fruit

I am sitting in my Rosary Room (some people call it the living room but this is where we say the family rosary and so this is what my kids have always called it) and I can smell pinto beans cooking on the stove. The smell is heavenly. Maybe it is the onion or the basil but whatever it is smells awesome.

Beans are a wonderful super food. They are a legume and so are rich in minerals and B vitamins, iron, folate, potassium and magnesium and contain several anticancer agents. All legumes contain both high omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids. But man or woman cannot live on legumes alone. They contain vegetable protein but not enough of all the essential amino acids. (soybeans are the exception, but still quite short on 2 of the essentials that it isn't recommended). You need to add some animal protein to get the most out of your beans.

Full of nutrition, filling and cheap! OH YES these babies are super frugal and wildly earthy crunchy! Everything that makes me smile. To top it off they are so versatile, you can put them in a bajillion or so recipes.

First you need to cook them. Making beans from scratch was one of the first things I did when I started down my frugal, healthy, REAL food, home cooking path. It is easy peasy lemon squeezy simple.
You soak the beans over night in water with a little acid added (lemon juice, whey, apple cider vinegar) drain and rinse in the morning and then put them in a BIG pot with plenty of water or homemade broth and then you cook slowly slowly slowly - you can't hurry the beans - until they are tender. This can take anywhere from an hour to four. But that is it! Now you are able to can them (if you know how, which I don't) or you can freeze them.

This is what I do. I put them in 1-2 cup bags and freeze them so I have home cooked beans anytime.  I cook a different kind about 2x a month so I have different choices. Pinto, black beans and adzuki are my favorite but I do black eyed peas and navy also. I am always on the lookout for interesting beans.

I am going to share a super simple recipe for cooking beans, how to make them into a salad, refried beans, chili, and bean burritos. As the cooler air comes upon us I will be sharing more ways to use these awesome super foods!

Basic Beans (adapted from Nourishing Traditions)

  • 2 cups beans (black, kidney, pinto etc)
  • warm filtered water 
  • 2 TBS Whey or lemon juice for black beans only
  •  4 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed (optional - but I always do!)
  • sea salt and pepper

Cover beans with warm water and stir in whey if making black beans. Leave in a warm place for 12 -24 hours, depending on the bean and what you have going on. Drain, rinse, and place in a large pot on the stove and add enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Reduce heat and add optional garlic. Simmer covered, for 4-8 hours (I have never gone that long) Check occasionally and add more water as necessary. Season to taste.

Bean Salad - the name doesn't do it justice!
Mix in the morning - tastes better after it sit awhile

  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup navy beans
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 2 celery stalks, diced super small
  • 1 small red onion, also diced super small
  • 1 fresh, homegrown if possible, heirloom if you are lucky, tomato, chopped, juice discarded
  • 2-3TBS extra virgin olive oil - the good stuff
  • sea salt and pepper to taste!
Mix everything in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour for the flavors to marry, and go on a honeymoon of deliciousness!

You are going to be amazed at the simplicity of refried beans.

Refried Beans Recipe


  • 2 1/2 cups of dry pinto beans cooked! (about a 1lb) (see above)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (optional) - I always use onions
  • 2 Tbsp pork lard, bacon fat, or olive oil (for vegetarian option)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1tsp cumin - (optional, add when you salt)
  • Cheddar cheese (optional)
Add the onions and lard/fat/oil to a wide, sturdy (not with a flimsy stick-free lining) frying pan on medium high heat. Cook onions until they are soft and become translucient.  Add the strained beans and about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Using a potato masher, mash the beans in the pan, while you are cooking them, until they are pretty mushed up - can leave some whole for look and texture.  Add more water if necessary to keep the fried beans from getting too dried out. Add salt to taste. Add a few slices of cheddar cheese, or some (1/2 cup) grated cheddar cheese if you want. (I rarely do this) When beans are heated through (and optional cheese melted) the beans are ready to serve. Amazingly good!

Bean and Cheese Burritos


1TBS oil - I use lard or coconut
1 small sweet green or red pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1/4 - 1/2 small onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups water
2 cups cooked pinto beans
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chilis (or you can use some you roasted yourself)

1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin and chili powder or more to taste
8 flour tortillas
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Salsa and sour cream or plain yogurt taste delish on top!

How to make Bean Burritos

1 Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Lightly grease an 11"x 7" 1 x 2" baking dish and set aside.
In your iron skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat.
Add the pepper, green onions, and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the onions are lightly browned.
Add 3/4 cup of the water and cook, uncovered, another 5 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft and almost all the liquid is gone.
2 Add the beans, tomato paste, green chilies, cumin, chili powder, and remaining 1/2 cup of water  and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
With a potato masher or spoon, mash the mixture until smooth.
3 Place about 2 tablespoons of the bean mixture on each tortilla and sprinkle with 1 TBS or so of the cheese.
Roll up the tortillas and place them, seam side down, in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
Using a pastry brush, brush each tortilla with a little water or more coconut oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes or until the tortillas are piping hot.
Top with salsa and sour cream if desired.
I know you have seen this picture before - but this is what they look like!
These can be frozen and heated up later for a great quick meal for teenagers.
 I linked this to Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday!
I am also linking this to the wonderful Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop - from A Little Bit of Spain in  Iowa!
And the brand new Meme at Alea's Premeditated Leftovers: Real Food Deals Week 2


  1. I love beans! Love, love, love. My cupboard is constantly loaded with beans. All different varieties. I'm making baked beans this weekend and I can't wait! Thanks!

  2. Ok, now I'm hungry AND I need to go buy some different types of beans and get cooking! I never put garlic in during the cooking process, what a simple, wonderful way to bring out some great flavor! Thanks!

  3. I love beans. Beans are one of our primary protein sources around here. So nutritious and very frugal! What a great topic for a post.

  4. Thanks for the bean recipes! I've just cooked up some black beans and I did can them (instructions in Ball Blue Book, but after cooking, it's just a matter of putting them in jars adding cooking water and processing in a pressure canner - I think it was about 1 hour 25 min?? Don't know the time for sure, but it was super easy to can them).
    Gotta try the refried beans...yum!

  5. Julie - You will be glad you did! Beans are so versatile and delicious!

    Deanna - thanks - I am a huge bean fan, I use them often - they stretch a meal like magic!

  6. Christy, thank you for the bean recipes. I LOVE beans and am always looking for new recipes to use them.

  7. Hi,

    Great recipe....What is blog hop...kindly email me the details of bloghopat


  8. I love the musical fruit!! I try to cook and freeze some a few times a month, too. I love the sound of all the recipes you've shared...mmmm...beans ;)

  9. I'm tempted to cry, "not fair" because you made me crave beans so badly just by reading your post. But a-ha, I can go pull some out of the freezer, because I cook a bunch and put them away, just like you.

  10. Great recipes! The bean salad is really calling out to me. I can't wait to give it a try :)

  11. I LOOOOVEEE beans and now am SO craving some burritos. Off to go soak some to make my taste buds happy! Thanks for the inspiration :P

  12. The flavor difference between dried and canned beans is huge. Thanks for reminding me how great a simple pot of beans can be :) Thanks for contributing to Simple Lives Thursday!

  13. beans are a weekly at our house--perfect, cheap meatless meal.

  14. I love the variations you suggest! Beans are a stple in our diet and I am always looking for new ways to prepare them.

  15. Lots of bean recipes I usually make curry, soups and salads

  16. love all of your bean recipes. We make a bean salad as well but it is different than yours. I love your recipes believe we will try them have you ever tried what they call calico beans? It is good with a few different types of beans and hamburger with a sauce mmmmm good

  17. I love beans, too! Have you tried Honey Baked Lentils? I'm looking forward to cooler weather so I can make them again!

  18. Becca - I have never tried lentils that way - I would love it with the orange juice, I think my kids would like it to - thanks for sharing the link!

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