Slow and Spicy Pinto Beans

Top these Slow and Spicy Pinto Beans with a little shredded mozzarella and you have the perfect side dish for your fish tacos or chicken enchiladas. They also make a great vegetarian protein for your main course. Try them in veggie tacos or simply add them to a cheese quesadilla or on top of a salad.

Dried beans are extremely simple to prepare and the slow cooker does most of the work in this dish. If you have leftovers they freeze well for a ready-to-eat protein on a busy night, just defrost and reheat.

Ingredients:
1 cup dry pinto beans
7½ cups of water, divided
2 garlic whole cloves
1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Wash and sort beans, removing any small stones, dirt or damaged beans. Place beans in a large stock pot and cover with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Allow beans to soak for up to 4 hours.
  2. Drain beans and place in a slow cooker set to high heat. Add garlic, chipotle chile pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and cayenne pepper to the beans and cover with 2½ cups of water.
  3. Cook for 4 hours, until beans are soft and tender. Discard garlic cloves and serve.

Servings: 6

Cauliflower and Mushroom Tacos

Make it a Meatless Monday with these hardy vegetarian tacos, stuffed with mildly spiced cauliflower and mushrooms and topped with sweet bell pepper sauce. This mostly hands-free meal is perfect for a busy week night, because you get 20 extra minutes to relax while dinner is roasting. Round out this meal with a side of pinto or black beans and Mexican hot chocolate for dessert. This is also a great make-ahead meal, especially if you are entertaining. Reheat the vegetables, make a pitcher of margaritas and you are ready to host book club.

Taco Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped into bite-size pieces
8 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chipotle chili pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 soft white corn tortillas

Roasted Sweet Pepper Sauce:
2 bell peppers (yellow, orange or red), seeded and cut in half
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon salt

Optional Taco Toppings:
grated smoked cheddar cheese
avocado slices
chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cauliflower and mushrooms on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and add garlic to the tray. Season with cumin, chipotle chili pepper, salt and pepper, and toss with a spatula to evenly coat. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes.
  2. Place bell peppers on a baking tray, cut side down and roast for 20 minutes, until lightly charred. Place peppers in the bowl of a food processor with the chopping blade attached. Add cayenne pepper and salt, and pulse to chop until slightly smooth with fine chunks of pepper.
  3. Serve cauliflower and mushroom filling in tortillas and top with roasted sweet pepper sauce and optional taco toppings if desired.

Servings: 4