Sep 19th, 2006
The mystery beans from yesterday's post are these beautiful Anasazi Beans I got on my visit to Bob's Red Mill. Anasazi beans have not been in commercial cultivation for that long. They were apparently discovered by a scientist in the '80s who while looking for something else entirely stumbled across a clay pot of beans in an old cliff cave in New Mexico. The beans were carbon dated to 1500 years old but some still germinated and were eventually put into production. I don't know if I fully buy the story but it is a good one. You can see more here.
Whatever their origin, Anasazi beans are beautiful to look at and have a mild, creamy taste. I wanted a recipe that was fairly simple so that the taste of the beans would shine through, and this one from Deborah Madison did the trick. I soaked the beans overnight, first boiling them for about five minutes in a quart of water for each cup of beans. They cooked up nice and soft and we wolfed them down with a pan of cornbread on the side. I did remove about 3 or 4 cups of the cooking water right before adding the cooked tomatoes to the pot, as I wanted a less soupy end product, but you could go either way.
The beans resembled pinto beans in taste, but with a creamier texture. And, as an added bonus, they're apparently very high on the digestible scale for beans. If you come across a supply of anasazi's I'd definitely recommend giving them a try - different yet comforting at the same time.
Anasazi Beans with Tomatoes and Serrano Chiles2 cups anasazi or pinto beans, soaked
1 small onion, halved and peeled
2 garlic cloves, 1 whole, 1 minced
2 tsp fresh or dried epazote (optional)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 to 3 serrano chiles to taste, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
Put the beans in a pot with 2 quarts water and boil hard for 10 minutes. Skim off any foam, then add the onion, whole garlic, and epazote. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add 1 1/2 tsp salt and continue cooking until the beans are soft, about 30 minutes more. Remove the onion and garlic.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and their juice, chiles, cilantro, and minced garlic. Cook briskly, pressing on the tomatoes until they break up and thicken into a sauce, about 10 minutes. Add the sauce to the beans and simmer for 15 minutes more.
Serve garnished with crumbled queso fresco or shredded cheddar, cilantro, avocado, and cornbread or corn tortillas.
-Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone