The Pinto Bean - One Legume, Many Uses

September 15, 2014 Classic Cooking

The pinto bean is one versatile legume. From its key role in chili and refried bean recipes to the pinto bean supper, made popular in the South, it is a great addition to more dishes than you might assume.

Pintos are the most common beans in the U.S. and a staple in my pantry. I keep a few cans around, so I always have a base for quick, easy, delicious meals. Here are some of my favorites.

Breakfast For extra protein on busy mornings, pinto beans are also a great addition to breakfast burritos. Just combine the beans with eggs, salsa, avocado and onion, and you have a tasty, portable meal that will last you through lunchtime.

Enchiladas For these savory chicken enchiladas, the recipe calls for cooking chicken with onion and garlic, but you could also use roasted chicken from the grocery store and quickly sauté it with onions and garlic. You could even double the beans and add the garlic and onions to the sauce in the third step. There's also an extra bonus with this dish. Since you cook everything in one pan, you have very little mess!

Sloppy Joes Have you ever had beans in a sloppy joe? They're a great way to stretch ground meat and add extra protein. I actually like to eat the sloppy joe mix without a bun when I've forgotten to buy them or am trying to save a few calories. If you're craving crunch, eat the mix with tortilla chips. Put the mix on tortilla chips and cover with cheese for easy nachos.

Pie...Yes, Pie! Did you know that pinto beans could be sweet? Beans don't have to be savory. Heck, the best baked beans have some sugar or molasses in them. Their creamy texture when mashed makes for a delicious vehicle for other flavors — sweet and savory. Pinto bean pie is a great example of a sweet bean recipe. It's similar to pecan pie, but the filling is made of pinto beans. It's delicious!

Now you know why I keep a few cans of pinto beans in the pantry. They're versatile, satisfying and can be used in some very surprising recipes.

MeetJulie Niesen

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