What are pinto beans?
Pinto in Spanish means 'painted' and it's easy to see how these beans got their name. The pale pink-beige pinto beans are speckled with red-brown 'paint splatters', Jackson Pollack-style. The speckles disappear when the beans are cooked and they turn a creamy pink colour all over.
Pinto beans originated in Peru and were introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers of the New World.
They are a super source of protein for those on a meat-free diet, and a source of blood sugar-regulating, cholesterol-lowering fibre. They also contain energy-boosting iron, vitamin B for cognitive function, and the minerals folate, magnesium and potassium, which are good for heart health. Additionally, they are thought to help with sensitivity to sulphites.
Store the dried beans in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and in an airtight container.
How do I prepare pinto beans?
Pinto beans are enjoyed world-over as a staple food, particularly where meat is unavailable. In the Americas, they are the main ingredient in refried beans, which is typically made with animal fat. A healthier, meat-free version can be made in a slow cooker with reduced salt and spices such as paprika and cumin to replicate the traditional 'smoky' flavour.
The beans can be used whole in vegetarian chilli and other Mexican fare, in soups and in hearty stews, and mashed in a variety of healthy dips.
To shorten the cooking time and aid digestion, first soak the dried beans for at least a few hours but ideally overnight. The addition of bicarbonate of soda to the water will speed up the process. Another method is to bring the beans to the boil then turn off the heat and leave uncovered in the pan of water for one to two hours.
Once soaked, rinse the beans under running water and bring to the boil in a partially-covered pot one part beans to three parts fresh, un-salted water, as salt will increase the cooking time. Simmer for an hour or until tender, skimming off any foam that appears on the surface.
Try this Kamut and Pinto Bean Chilli
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