This healthy slow-cooker Pinto Bean Stew with Jalapeño-Corn Dumplings recipe is bursting with veggies—onion, bell pepper, celery and corn—and if desired, topped with crunchy bits of radish and chile- and lime-flecked cornbread dumplings. If you’re pressed for time, skip the dumplings and serve this pinto bean stew straight out of the crock pot, topped with crushed tortilla chips and a sprinkling of Monterey Jack cheese. Make sure to soak your dried beans before using them in the slow cooker to ensure even cooking.
As beans are a very inexpensive form of good protein, they have become popular in many cultures throughout the world and are the most highly consumed dried bean in the United States. They have a beige background strewn with reddish brown splashes of color, and look like little painted canvases, à la Jackson Pollack; hence their name “pinto,” which in Spanish means “painted.” When cooked, their colored splotches disappear, and they become a beautiful pink color. In addition to lowering cholesterol, pinto beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. So what’s not to like?
When a recipe calls for water as it’s base, we will more than likely swap it out for a flavored broth, in this case chicken stock. And without any Monterey Jack on hand, we used shredded sharp cheddar. Finally, not in the mood to make (or eat) dumplings, we crumbled some blue corn chips on the stew. While in the end, it had a light zesty note, I would increase the spice amounts next time for a hardier kick (as several reviewers suggested), perhaps even adding a chipotle pepper.
Planning on having this for dinner on a Monday, we soaked the beans overnight directly in the crock pot (no heat). And to expedite the work day morning, we chopped the veggies and measured the spices on Sunday evening; then drained the beans and threw everything into the slow cooker on Monday before we headed out the door. This will definitely be on a future menu…
Recipe compliments of EatingWell.com
- 1 pound dry pinto beans, soaked (see Tip)
- 6 cups water
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal, preferably whole-grain
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1 fresh jalapeño, finely chopped
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup sliced radishes
- Drain the soaked beans. Combine the beans, water, onion, bell pepper, celery, corn, garlic, chili powder and cumin in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Cook on High for 4 hours (or on Low for 8 hours).
- To prepare dumplings: Just before the end of the 4 (or 8) hours, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and use a pastry blender, two knives or a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add jalapeño and lime zest and toss to coat. Add buttermilk and stir to form a dough.
- After the stew has cooked for 4 (or 8) hours, stir in lime juice and salt. Using generous tablespoonfuls of dough, drop 8 dumplings on top of the stew. Cover and cook on High for 1 hour. Serve each portion of stew topped with a dumpling. Garnish with cilantro and radish.
TIPS & NOTES
- Make Ahead Tip: Soak beans; prep vegetables, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day; measure seasonings. | Equipment: 5- to 6-quart slow cooker
- Tip: Before using beans in a slow-cooker recipe, soak them to ensure even cooking. Start by sorting beans to remove any pebbles; rinse well with cold water. To soak overnight: Place beans in a large bowl, cover with 3 inches of cold water and soak at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours. To “quick soak”: Place beans in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Other Quick Serving Ideas
- Use pinto beans in chili recipes in place of kidney beans.
- Blend together pinto beans with sage, oregano, garlic and black pepper for a delicious spread that can be used as a crudité dip or sandwich filling.
- Layer cooked pinto beans, chopped tomatoes and onions and shredded cheese on a tortilla. Broil in the oven until hot and cheese melts. Top with chopped avocado and cilantro.
- Add pinto beans to vegetable soups.
- Heat pinto beans together with cooked rice. Add cooked chopped vegetables such as carrots, zucchini and tomatoes. Season to taste and enjoy this simple-to-prepare one pot meal.