A Recipe for Cheesy Bean Pie and Tips for Cooking the Perfect Dry Beans

I recently attended the Beans for a Better Life conference in Austin, TX, and when I returned, I was determined to try my hand at cooking dry beans. I typically rely on canned dry beans, so I was looking forward to the cooking challenge. Would I be able to produce the same smooth and tender consistency you get from canned beans? Lynne Bigwood from the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, assured me that if I followed a few simple steps, my beans would rival those from a can. So off I went to the grocery store for  a pound of dry pinto beans. Read on for Lynne’s fool-proof cooking method and a recipe for Cheesy Bean Pie.

This pie, made with rice, beans, cheese, and lots of other comforting ingredients hit the spot this weekend. To spice it up, you can add cumin and chili powder.

Cheesy Bean Pie

Makes 8 Servings

I found this recipe in The Bean Cookbook by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association and adapted it a bit by using melted butter instead of margarine in the crust and leaving the parsley out since I didn’t have any on hand. The original recipe also called for a 1/4 cup layer of sliced black olives, but I left them out because my hubby isn’t an olive fan. Feel free to add the olives if your family likes them!

For the Rice Shell:

  • 2½ cups cooked rice (I used leftover brown rice)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil or coat a 10-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Place the rice, egg, parsley and butter in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Press the rice mixture firmly into the pie plate and up the sides to form a “shell.”

For the Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cooked pinto or kidney beans, divided (I used the beans I cooked from scratch, but canned beans would work too)
  • 1½ cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup leftover spiral ham or lower sodium deli ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 1 minute. Set aside.

2. Layer as follows in the rice shell: 1 cup beans, 3/4 cup of the cheese, all the ham, all the onion and garlic, the remaining 1 cup beans, and the remaining 3/4 cup cheese.

For the Custard:

  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Place the eggs, sour cream, milk, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Pour evenly over the layered pie.

2. Bake until the custard mixture is set and the top is golden brown, about 35  minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 280 calories, 11g fat (5g saturated, 0.3g omega-3), 550mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 17g protein, 10% vitamin A, 25% calcium, 10% iron

Print Recipe

Okay, now back to my bean challenge. Here are the steps I followed to achieve perfect cooked dry beans:

> Wash the beans and pick out any small stones.

> In a large pot, heat 10 cups of bottled or filtered water to boiling. Add the dry beans and boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand 4 hours or overnight … but no more than 16 hours. I soaked mine for 12 hours.

>  When the beans are done soaking, drain off the soak water. Rinse both the beans and the pot with fresh water. Cover the beans with bottled or filtered water (add a teaspoon of salt if desired) and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 10 minutes minimum. (The typical cook time is 15 to 45 minutes;my pinto beans were tender in 30).

* The reason for using bottled or filtered water is that many public water supplies contain minerals, including calcium, which prevent beans from getting tender. If you know for sure that you have “soft” water, feel free to use tap water.

A one-pound bag of pinto beans yields over 6 cups after soaking and simmering.

To cook beans in a pressure cooker, we turned to our good friend and fellow dietitian, Jill Nussinow (AKA The Veggie Queen) for advice. Here’s what she had to say: “I do a quick, or overnight, soak. I drain and then add at least ½ cup water for each dry cup of beans that were rehydrated. Bring to high pressure for 4 to 6 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. How long the beans take to cook depends upon the variety and how old the beans are.”

Has anyone had good luck cooking dry beans?  Or challenges? We hope these tips help make your next batch of beans tender and delicious!

Pressure Cooker … There’s More!

Last week, we announced the winner of our Fagor Duo Pressure Cooker giveaway.  This week, thanks to the generosity of dietitian and cookbook author, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, we were able to offer a second giveaway to one of the 244 readers that posted to our blog.  Carolyn G. from Sylva, North Carolina will receive a copy of Jill’s book, The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment. And speaking of Jill, we just found out that she’s hosting a “Flax Your Baking Muscles” recipe contest on her blog.  We’re working on a recipe using ground flaxseed in a peanut butter & chocolate chip cookie. Even though we think we’ll win (LOL), feel free to enter her contest as well!

Anyway, as promised in our pressure cooker winner post, we wanted to share some of the amazing comments we received during the contest.  After reading the nearly 250 comments, we quickly realized why so many of you appreciate the pressure cooker: It saves time and money, makes clean up a breeze, uses less energy than other appliances, and helps busy families get nutritious meals on the table quickly.  There were many childhood memories shared as well as a few horror stories about the old pressure cookers that well, exploded from time to time.

Marla P. wrote:  “I have never used a pressure cooker. I have a vivid childhood memory of my mom cooking rhubarb in a pressure cooker since she was going to make a rhubarb pie. The pressure cooker exploded, and there was rhubarb all over the kitchen ceiling.”

When we asked readers why they wanted to win, they had plenty of great things to say. Blogging buddy, Jenna from Food with Kid Appeal offered some of the following reasons:  “I can get all day, slow cooked flavor with way less energy than stove top cooking, I can have a new meal plan day, ‘Pressure-Cooker Night,’ it will give me an excuse to buy a new cookbook, and I was jealous of the other moms in my playgroup that have one, and now I can be part of the ‘I have cool cooking accessories club.'”

Katie F., even posted her favorite pressure cooker recipe for beef stew. “To make it, combine 2 pounds beef stew meat (cut into 1-inch pieces), 1 can condensed tomato soup, 1/2 can liquid (once you dump the soup out of the can, fill it 1/2 way with red wine, beer or water), 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, and 1 large onion, chopped.  Then you bring to pressure and let rock for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and let the pressure drop for 5 minutes. Release the rest of the pressure and add 4 carrots cut into 1-inch pieces and 1 large baking potato cut into bit-size pieces.  Bring back up to pressure for 3 minutes, do a quick release and your tender beef stew is ready to serve.”

We look forward to trying Katie’s recipe and creating a few new ones of our own.

Pressure Cooker Winner!

We’re delighted to announce the winner of our latest giveaway for a Fagor Duo Pressure Cooker.  With close to 250 entries, Lorene S., a mom of two little boys from Marietta, GA was selected as our winner using Random.org.  In her comment to our blog, Lorene wrote:  “I’ve never used a pressure cooker but have only heard good things from my siblings who have. At this point in my life (and, due to the state of the economy, ALL our lives), anything that reduces stress is welcome. Healthy meals prepared quickly definitely meets that requirement. Risotto in 12 minutes? A whole chicken entree in 25 minutes? Sign me up!”  Congratulations Lorene!

We enjoyed reading all of your comments and will post some of our favorites to the blog early next week.  We are scheduled to launch our new blog design on Monday (if all goes according to plan) — we’re calling it Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, so stay tuned for a fun new look and a bunch of cool new features.

Podcast 41: Pressure Cooking 101

In today’s Cooking with the Moms podcast show, we turn the dinner hour into the dinner minutes. Recently, we discovered the amazing ease, health benefits, and convenience of cooking in a pressure cooker (not the one your grandmother used but the modern-day style that won’t explode!). To help busy families get nutritious meals on the table quickly, we have two recipes: Butternut Squash Risotto, bursting with great flavor and immune-boosting vitamin A, and Shane’s Fabulous Lentil Soup, a kid-friendly recipe we got from pressure cooker guru, Jill Nussinow (AKA The Veggie Queen).  If you havn’t entered our giveaway yet for a Fagor Duo Pressure Cooker, be sure to scroll down to our January 23rd blog entry to learn more.

Pressure Cooker GIVEAWAY! Mom’s Best Friend

For the past few weeks, we’ve been experimenting with our new Fagor Duo Pressure Cooker.  Like many people, our comfort level with the pressure cooker had been less than cozy.  After all, we’re old enough to remember the stories about exploding pressure cookers — though perhaps they were nothing more than urban legends.  The new, modern-day pressure cookers are safe to use and turn the dinner hour in to the dinner minutes. 

Recently, after speaking with pressure cooker guru, Jill Nussinow, we decided to give this handy kitchen tool a  try.  We’ve been so impressed with our dinner results that we decidedto give away a fabulous Fagor Duo Pressure Cooker to one  randomly selected winner.  That’s a $100 value!  To enter, all you have to do is post a comment below sharing your favorite pressure cooker recipe or why you want one.  The giveaway ends at 5:00 PM on Friday, February 20th. 

Now, for more tips on using your pressure cooker, please enjoy the following guest post from Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, The Veggie QueenTM

I began using a pressure cooker when my son was three. I say that it changed my cooking life, and probably the rest of it, too. I felt like the best mom in the world because my then-vegetarian son loved lentil soup.  (My omnivore husband will eat just about anything.) I could make the soup in 20 minutes, from start to finish. Thus began my love affair with the pressure cooker.

Shane's Fabulous Lentil Soup

My son had a biweekly play date when he was almost four. His friend would ask me every week, “Do you have any risotto?” I would always answer slyly, “I don’t but I can make  you some.” About 12 minutes later, he’d have his “plain” risotto which included only onions or leeks and vegetable broth. It became his favorite risotto. His mom wanted to know my secret so I told her about my pressure cooker. She bought a pressure cooker, and then her risotto became the best in the world. I could go on about why you might want to pressure cook but I will just share five of the many reasons.

Cook Healthier Foods More Easily and Quickly:  Legumes, whole grains and vegetables are a snap to cook. Beans become soup or chili, seasoned to your liking, in less than an hour. Barley, brown or wild rice cook in less than 25 minutes. Instead of microwaving, pressure cook fresh vegetables and get flavorful one-minute broccoli or carrots in two. No added fat needed in these triple-ply bottom stainless steel pots.

Boost Nutrition and Cook Big:  A Journal of Food Science study revealed more nutrition in pressure-cooked broccoli compared to other cooking methods. Colors stay bright and food stays firm. Batch cooking is easy; freezing leftovers such as 3-minute steel cut oats or lentil soup is a breeze.

Save Money:  One hundred dollars or less buys a pot that lasts a lifetime.  Home cooking pressure-perfect soup, stew, chili and pot roast is fast and inexpensive. Pressure cooked beans beat the canned version for cost and taste.

Save Energy and Time:  Cooking temperature rises to 240 degrees+ versus 212° F, reducing cooking time by 50% to 70% over stovetop cooking. Cook on gas, electric, glass top or induction. Energy saving for you and the planet.

Clean-Up is a Breeze with One Pot Cooking:  Start by sautéing or browning, then add the remaining ingredients at once, or in stages, with the modern pressure cooker quick-release feature. Clean the pot, rinse the gasket, and you’re done.

Cooking meat is easy. A whole chicken takes about 25 minutes at pressure and a 3-pound pork roast comes out fork tender in just 45 minutes at pressure (plus release time). I’ve also successfully made meat loaf, beef stew, Asian beef tips with vegetables and fajita chicken and rice. The modern pressure cooker is safe, quiet and efficient, relieving you of the nighttime pressure involved with making dinner.

You may be wondering, though, why you’d want to use this instead of the crockpot.  For the answers take a look at my November 24th  blog post. For more information about pressure cooking you can check out my website where you can see me in action with the modern pressure cooker.