Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker Pinto Beans
Hope all you mamas out there had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend!
I’m not sure if he heard about it somewhere or came up with it on his own, but around the start of the school year the boy declared that Tuesdays were for tacos, and so our Taco Tuesday tradition was born. Now we’re fortunate to have a great taco place in the neighborhood (District Taco for you locals), but I try to do it at home most weeks. The kids are really into bean and cheese “tacos” (they’re really more of a quesadilla or burrito, but no need to get technical) which makes it even easier as I can make a pot of beans ahead of time, and then quickly cook some chicken breasts or fish when we want a little more protein. For meatless nights, we just use a generous scoop of beans, fresh avocado and tomato and some queso fresco. Having recently conquered my fear of the slow cooker, it was high time to try beans in the crock pot.
I’ve read conflicting things about soaking dried beans and Rancho Gordo recommends cooking the beans in the soaking water to retain nutrients, so I took their advice. You can drain and fill with fresh water if you prefer. Rancho Gordo makes gorgeous heritage bean varieties unlike any beans you’ll find in the supermarket, so they’re worth seeking out if you can. Or, just use your favorite brand of dried beans. The Rio Zape beans I used here are like pinto beans, but bigger and very flavorful. I just added a few things to season the cooking water and let them go all day. They were perfect by dinner time.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Pinto Beans (or Rio Zape)
Makes 8 servings
- 1 pound dried Rio Zape or pinto beans
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 4-ounce can mild Hatch green chilies
- 1 bay leaf
- sea salt
1. The night before: Rinse and pick over beans. Place in slow cooker bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight.
2. In the morning, add garlic, chilies and bay leaf. Add additional water to cover beans by one inch. Set slow cooker on low and cook for 8-10 hours, until desired tenderness.
3. Season with salt to taste and serve. Can freeze leftover beans; be sure to include some of the liquid to keep them from drying out when reheated.
Do you have a themed dinner night at your house? If not, try it! It’s a fun way to get kids involved in planning the meal. Getting to have chips and salsa at dinner, just like at our favorite Mexican restaurant, makes our Taco Tuesday extra special.