April 8, 2014

Pinto beans with green chilies

Last year I bought myself a pressure cooker. I use it all the time. I tell everyone about the glamorous lifestyle of cooks that own pressure cookers. I talk as if I'm an expert. Here's a list of why I love them:

  • Pressure cookers (PCs) are fast. The cooking time for just about everything is reduced, sometimes by a third, and sometimes by half. 
  • Beans cooked in a pressure cooker almost always taste better than any other method.
  • I don't have to soak beans before cooking.
  • Pressure cookers allow cooks to multitask seamlessly. 
  • The new, or second generation, cookers don't have the loud hiss or the jiggle top pressure release. They are quiet.
Used daily they really do change the way you start to see ingredients and the time it takes to make things. The PC hasn't replaced everything in my kitchen, but it surely gets used at least 4-5 times per week.

Pinto beans cooked in a pressure cooker come out very creamy. This element of creaminess is great when paired with a little heat from the green chilies, and some acidity from fresh lime and cilantro. This is an excellent side dish, when paired with black bean veggie patties, or it can be served as a soup with some tortilla chips on the side. I won't judge.

Pinto beans with green chilies in 10 steps
Yield: serves 4 generous servings

1 cup dry pinto beans, (see Step 1 of Directions below) 
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (see Step 3 of Directions below)
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 of a large or medium onion, diced
2 bay leaves
2 and 1/2 cups no-chicken or vegetable broth, or water
1, 4 oz can diced green chilies (such as La Victoria fire roasted diced green chilies)
1 tsp salt

For garnish:
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
the juice of 1/2 of  lime

Step 1: We are going to check out the awesomeness of the pressure cooker by preparing dried pinto beans but using the quick soak method of the cooker. Place 1 cup of dried pinto beans, 4 cups of water, and 1 tsp salt in the pressure cooker (OK to use the smaller fry pan with a 2.5 quart capacity). Close the lid and bring the contents to high pressure which is indicated by the second red ring. Cook for 2 minutes at high pressure, and then use the water release method to remove pressure. This means as soon as the time is over, place the cooker in the sink and run water down it's side to remove pressure and stop cooking. Remove the beans from the pressure cooker in a drainer, allow the water to drain away, and wipe out the cooker bottom. Proceed with the recipe. This is called quick soak. This can be done to any beans and then used in the recipe (This step replaces the usual soak and rest time for beans). *see my note below. 

Step 2: Heat the pressure cooker over medium heat (OK to use the smaller fry pan with a 2.5 quart capacity). 

Step 3: Add the whole coriander seeds and toast until fragrant about 5 minutes. Do not walk away because they go from toasted to burned very quickly. Remove the toasted coriander seeds to a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.  

Step 4: Turn the heat on the burner to medium low. Add olive oil or butter to the PC. It will melt quickly since the pan will be hot. Add the onions right away and stir. Cook the onions until they are just translucent, about 5 minutes. 

Step 5: Add the bay leaves to the PC. Stir.

Step 6: Add the drained pinto beans to the PC. Stir. 

Step 7: Add the broth or water along with the diced chilies. Use water to get any residual chilies. Trust me, the flavor for this really is pulled together with the chilies. 

I did not forget the salt or spices - you add it at the end after the PC is done cooking! 

Step 8: Stir everything together, close the pressure cooker with it's lid, and bring to high pressure (the second red bar). Once the cooker reaches high pressure, cook 12 minutes. Once the timer goes off, turn off the heat, and move the PC to another burner. Use the natural release method; this is the method where the cooker sits and rests to come down to pressure naturally without doing anything to it.  

Step 9: Grind the coriander seeds and add the ground coriander to the cumin, set aside.

Step 10: When the cooker is ready, open up the lid, and taste for salt.  Add 1 teaspoon salt, the spices, and squeeze in the lime juice and cilantro. Give a quick stir and taste for salt. Remove the bay leaves. Serve with extra lime slices and cilantro to be passed at the table. 

*Note: You may omit Step 1 by using beans that have already been soaked and drained. 


  1. This sounds amazing. You make me want to try a pressure cooker! I have been browsing through a bunch of your recipes today. Actually pinned your black bean burger earlier..have always want to try to make a veggie burger.

    1. Hey Michelle! You should try a pressure cooker! If you make those black bean patties, let me know how they turn out!

  2. Hey Neeli! How are you? You have some very nice recipes on your blog!
    Thank you for your sweet comment, it was very fun to read something like that! I answered on my blogpost ;)
    By the way, you were right about the city, the picture was made in Tongeren, the oldest city of Belgium. Have you been there already?

    X Sara

    1. Sara, I've been having so much fun reading all your older posts - and of course checking out your news ones =) I wish I found this earlier! I am super jealous of all the stores you can still shop at!!! I left you a nice comment (half in very bad Flemish). It looks like the weather is really nice! Fantastiche!