One of the best things about beans is that it is a completely perfect food to convert into convenience food! Don’t believe me? Well, why not dehydrate some beans and use these easy dinner ideas for pinto beans so you can have home-cooked convenience foods on your shelf that are both healthy and quick!
First of all, I want to tell you that if you are looking for super convenient, healthy, and easy dinner ideas to have on your shelf, you are in the right place! I’m all about easy, but also being a homesteader who grows and preserves food, my habits need to include what I already do here on our hobby farm. Buying a lot of canned and boxed foods just won’t do. Using pre-prepared, pre-packaged foods on a regular basis won’t allow me to use what we’re producing here, and that’s counter-productive, right?
But even if you’re not a homesteader, you can use these ideas if you are one who watches sales, takes advantage of great deals at the store on basic whole foods. Beans can be one of the cheapest foods to purchase in bulk, and if your family eats them regularly, there’s really no end to quick, healthy, and easy dinner ideas that you can have in your repertoire! (Potatoes are another cheap food, which I’ve written a similar post a couple of weeks ago.)
At our house, we eat beans a few times per week. Our favorites are black and pinto beans, so the recipe ideas I share in this post will be best for those. However, once you master this whole bean dehydrating/rehydrating thing, it won’t be long before you are able to put together your own ideas for homemade convenience foods that your family loves, and that your rely on each week!
Recipes for Quick and Easy Dinners Featuring Pinto Beans
We live in California, where Mexican food abounds! From the Americanized fast food versions to little holes-in-the-wall that serve authentic versions of the same foods, we have tons of choices! And being that our family has Hispanic influence on both mine and Todd’s sides, Mexican food is a staple on our menu plan at least 2-3 times per week.
We usually have things like burritos (our favorite are wet burritos), enchiladas, and tostadas. We also love chili, which isn’t necessarily Mexican food, but has some of the same flavors that we might use in our Mexican dishes. Sometimes we just serve beans on the side of tacos or meat burritos, or even just next to rice.
But what good are dinner ideas if you aren’t sure how to make them? Well, don’t worry, I won’t leave you high and dry, wondering how to pull together a meal using your newly-dehydrated beans! I’m here for you, and will share my quick instructions on how to rehydrate your beans and use them to put together easy dinners inside of 30 minutes. Yay for beans!
Rehydrating Your Beans
Before we get to the recipes, I need to recap rehydrating beans right here, so you don’t have to go back to my other bean post. Of course you can, but since I know you are all about convenience (or you wouldn’t be reading this probably!), I’ll give you a quick rundown right here.
To rehydrate beans, all you need to do is dump however many cups of beans you need into a pan and cover them with boiling water (I usually use 3-4 cups). Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Add more hot water as needed. (An electric kettle works great for keeping boiling water available.) Stir around to avoid them sticking to the pan (this is especially important if you use a cast iron skillet, which works great, but gets REALLY hot). Once the beans are no longer hard, they are ready to use.
Refried Pinto Beans
To make refried beans, just add a Tbsp or two of oil, then mash them up with a potato masher. Add a handful of cheddar cheese and some taco seasoning, about 1/4 cup. Delicious and quick!
Beef and Potato “Wet” Burritos
This is one of our very favorite meals. It’s super hearty and very easy to make. I have to confess that I do use 24-30 oz. canned or jarred sauce for this recipe because I haven’t found a comparable sauce that works as well as the two we like.
To make the filling, I dice up a pound of whatever beef steak we have on hand, season and brown). Next, I rehydrate one cup my potato dices. If you don’t have dehydrated potatoes, you can dice up a couple of fresh potatoes and brown those with the meat. Next, I add a can of El Pato Jalapeno (green can) or Hot Tomato Sauce (yellow can), but you can make your own sauce if you know how. I usually will add more water if needed. Bring to a hard boil, then simmer 20 minutes.
At this point, you can start rehydrating your beans, season and refry them if you’d like. They are served inside of the tortilla with the filling you just made, and lots of cheese. Fold up your tortilla to make a burrito, then top it with some of the sauce, and add more cheese, allowing it to melt. Yum!
Need it faster? Skip the beef and potato and just have a bean and cheese wet burrito!
Pinto Bean and Cheese Enchilada Casserole
You can use regular or refried beans for this, as well as canned or homemade sauce. I use one of the same canned sauces (27 oz. can) I mentioned in the previous recipe.
In a greased casserole dish, add a little sauce to the bottom just to cover. Add corn tortillas to cover the bottom, then layer beans and cheese on top. If you’d like to add taco meat at this point, it makes a great addition, but beans and cheese are just fine. Add a layer of corn tortillas, then beans and cheese, until you’ve used up all of your beans and cheese. Top with corn tortillas and cover with your sauce and more cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through. Let stand for 5 minutes, serve and enjoy!
Rehydrate a quart of beans. Brown a pound of ground beef and drain (or use lean ground beef). Add 1/4 cup of chili seasoning and the rehydrated beans to the drained meat. Add 8 oz of tomato sauce (or you can make tomato sauce from 2oz tomato powder + 6 oz water – more info in this post). Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until flavors are well blended.
Pinto Beans and Rice
Serve alongside your favorite Spanish rice and top both with cheese. Here are my recipes that I use regularly:
To make Spanish rice (white rice): To a skillet, add a Tbsp oil, one cup of white rice and 2 sliced green onions. Saute until the rice is a little browned and the onions are soft, about 2 minutes. Add 8 oz tomato sauce (or you can make tomato sauce from 2oz tomato powder + 6 oz water – more info in this post) and 8 oz chicken broth or water, 1 tsp salt and 1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
To make Spanish rice (brown rice): In your Crock Pot Express (or instant pot), add 1 cup of brown rice, 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper, 2 cups of hot chicken broth and 8 oz tomato sauce (or you can make tomato sauce from 2oz tomato powder + 6 oz water – more info in this post). Cook on high pressure for 22 minutes, and do not use quick release. (Hint: make beans while you are waiting for the machine to depressurize.)