On their own pinto beans have a dense texture and mildly earthy flavor.
Add them to a soup or stew and their starchy quality enhances whatever the other ingredients have going on. Pinto beans are a winter season food and one of the most common beans in the U.S. and Mexico. They get their name from the “painted” quality they have before they are cooked. Pinto beans are part of the “common bean” family originating in Peru and spreading across the globe. It is typically the pinto bean that is used in refried beans or other stews and chilis.
From a culinary perspective, you’ll want to soak your pinto beans at least overnight before using them to cook with. This will help break down the cell wall and eliminate phytates that can be irritable to the digestive system.
Once they are soaked they can then be slow cooked or boiled to the texture desired. The cooked beans can be added to soups, stews, chilis, and casseroles. They can be smashed and refried with lard and herbs and spices.
From a health perspective, the pinto bean is a great source of fiber, protein, slow digesting starch and vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent source of folate, copper and manganese. Because of their mineral and fiber content, they are a heart-healthy food, helping decrease the potential for cardiovascular disease and lowering cholesterol. They help stabilize blood sugar and, if soaked first, help repair the gastrointestinal tract, decreasing the potential for bowel issues and colon cancer. The trace minerals in pinto beans can help detoxify the body after consuming sulfites; a preservative found in many processed food and drink. The folate in pinto beans makes them a great resource for increasing iron storage and transport in the body.