Monday, March 8, 2010

Gourmet Anasazi Beans

Beautiful Beans with Great Taste
During the mid 1980's my grandmother introduced me to Anasazi Beans.  She had received a small amount of beans from a local museum just after the bean had gone into commercial production and she was able to begin cultivating her own beans in great supply a few years later.  I found the beans very intriguing because of their nice coloring versus the plain old pinto beans that she had traditionally grown. 
As the name suggests, these beans were cultivated by the Anasazi (Pueblo) Indians of the Four Corners area.  It is hard to pin down the exact history of how the bean was introduced into the commercial market, but apparently a small amount of beans were found in a sealed clay pot following an archaeological dig back in the 1950's.  Even though it defies the general seed viability laws, a portion of the beans were germinated after tests concluded that these seeds were 1,500 years old.  Commercial and private growers then helped with the production of the seeds and there is now a thriving market for Anasazi Beans.
Anasazi Beans are a wonderful alternative to Pinto Beans, Navy Beans and Great Northern Beans.  Like all beans, these beans are high in fiber and protein.  Anasazi Beans are also a good source of calcium and iron.  What is great is that Anasazi Beans contain significantly less gas producing carbohydrates than Pinto Beans, thus resulting in a generally milder gastro-intestinal experience!  Plus, the beans take less time to cook than Pinto Beans.
Here is a great way to cook them:
Soak 2 Cups of Anasazi Beans overnight and then drain.  Rinse and drain again.  In general, soaking beans help to soften them for cooking, reduce indigestible oligosaccharides (sugars), begin the germination process for improved nutrition, lower the gas producing carbohydrates and provide a cleansing rinse.
Pour beans into a large pot and add 6 Cups water.
Add 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
Add 1 teaspoon of Real Salt
Optional - Add a chopped onion or 1/2 Cup of rehydrated onions from your food storage.
Optional - Add a clove of garlic or 1 teaspon granulated garlic
Optional - Add a whole chili pepper (my favorite is the Serrano) and remove before serving
Bring the mixture to a boil and then allow to simmer for 1 hour with the lid slightly vented.  If the beans are still hard continue cooking until soft.  Serve in a bowl with a side plate of warm tortillas or bread!

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