Cranberry Beans with Tequila, Green Chiles, and Pepitas

This is a dish that uses things that you may already have at home to make something really interesting. You probably have dried beans around and maybe even some tequila. The tequila may be around to deal with the current situation right now. One tip I learned about cooking with dried beans, sometimes when beans have been hanging around in the cupboard for a long time, they can be hard to cook. It’s not that they go bad, they just don’t cook well and stay hard even after soaking and boiling. The key to getting around this is baking soda. What I like to do is when I soak my beans add 1/8 of a teaspoon to the water to help soften the beans. Then I add a pinch to whatever I am cooking. The baking soda breaks down the exterior and allows the water to penetrate. That way, no hard beans.

This dish came from America’s Test Kitchen. I chose this recipe because I like how beans and rice can be elevated into something wonderful. Beans are a staple in a lot of world cuisine, for good reason. They can be made into some really interesting things. Dried beans are wonderful because they soak up the liquid they are cooked in an become more flavorful. Some dishes I never make with canned beans because they don’t taste the same. Anyway this recipe is mostly in need of some vegetables and some rice to make this a meal. Here are the original stats:

Here’s what I changed:

  • I increased the servings from 4 to 10 to lower the calories.
  • I added red bell pepper to increase the vitamin C.
  • I added carrot to increase the vitamin A.
  • I reduced the olive oil by half to reduce the calories.
  • I added in some brown rice to make this a meal.
  • I deleted the sour cream to make this dairy free

Here is the final recipe:

Cranberry Beans with Tequila, Green Chiles, and Pepitas


Serves 10

  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 pound (2½ cups) dried cranberry beans, picked over and rinsed
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 4 red bell peppers chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup canned chopped green chiles
  • ½ cup roasted pepitas

Add 4 quarts cold water in a large container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.

Add rice to 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 45 minutes

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrot and bell peppert and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, paprika, cumin, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tequila and cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Stir in water, sugar, bay leaf, and cranberry beans; bring to simmer. Cover, transfer pot to oven, and cook until beans are tender, stirring once halfway through cooking, about 1¼ hours.

Add green chiles, stirring vigorously. Return pot to oven uncovered, and cook until sauce is thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with pepitas, sour cream, and pickles.


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