One pound of pinto beans

Apple Tree in bloom

The birds are singing, La! The fruit trees are blossoming, La! All this April is busting out all over, but the bummer of taxes due remains. And what a bummer it was. We wrote checks, we crammed forms into envelopes, we raised our voices in thanks for TurboTax, and then off to the post office and the bloody things were off. We have made our contribution to civilization.

Now that we feel like our pockets have been pulled out and emptied, what do we eat? This is a strange shoulder season for the Beneficial Farms CSA. Not much produce is available because it is still mostly seedlings in a greenhouse. The CSA has been filling in the basic storage produce (apples, onions, potatoes) with some local grocery items and a few signs of spring like sprouts. We have gotten cheese, raspberry jam, chili powder, and most wonderfully, two pounds of pinto beans.

Large portions of this planet have sustained themselves on the amazing power of beans. Protein! Iron! Fiber! Micronutrients! I love cooking with beans due to their ability to fill you up with healthy goodness, their tremendous cheapness, and their fabulous flexibility in an international array of dishes.

So, I cooked one pound of our local pinto beans (Akin Farm, Moriarty, NM) and found recipes to maximize their use. I find the slow cooker invaluable for cooking beans. I have a tendency to poke things burbling on the stove so the closed lid needed for efficient slow cooker cooking is very helpful for my neuroses. Also, I have found that one pound of beans is the maximum that our slow cooker can handle. Cooking more does not end up with nice, creamy beans at the end of the cook time. One pound is about two heaping cups and that triples once cooked. So I had six to seven cups of cooked beans to play with this week.

I started with refried beans from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Sauté some finely chopped onions, add a bunch of ground cumin, add beans, mash until desired consistency, add salt and pepper. Having eaten many cans of refried beans, these seemed pale of color by comparison. I also should have added more bean cooking liquid to make a saucier dish. However, they were very tasty and the cumin gave them nice warmth. We made burritos in which they were the star and still had leftovers.

The next night, more peasant food and it was a CSA hat trick. After cooking a few strips of bacon, I cooked a CSA onion long enough to get some color in them for increased flavor. I didn’t have the patience to fully caramelize them. I sliced our half head of CSA cabbage into thin strips and added them to the limp onions. After those wilted I added back the bacon and put in the cooked pinto beans (standing in for borlotti beans). I let the whole thing warm through and served it with roast potatoes, because we loves the roast potatoes. It was tasty and it must be healthy despite the bacon grease.

I used up the leftover refried beans as a side to Arepas the next night. I think I should have added more cornmeal because they ended more like corny crepes than little cakes. Still delicious.

Last night, despite protests from Mr. Husband, I make veggie burgers that used pinto beans and bulgur. Hey, I have those around the house! Super! Brown onions and then add bulgur and water to cook for about 15 minutes. While that is simmering away, prep the other ingredients (nuts, parsley or cilantro, seasonings, etc.). When the bulgur is done, mix everything together then grind up in a food processor. I made a small portion of the lime mayonnaise for on top. Chill the mixture for ten minutes, form into patties and cook until brown. They were quite squishy but very, very tasty. I topped with chopped sprouts for greenery.

I’m down to just a few beans left and will probably use them in jazzed up quesadillas in a few days. I felt tremendously successful utilizing ingredients around the house. Also, by shopping in the pantry I spent only about one-third of our usual grocery bill this past week. I’ll be doing it again this week and hoping for similar delicious results.

For your cooking pleasure:
Bulgur Veggie Burgers with Lime Mayonnaise