Frijoles de la Olla (Stewed Beans w/Pico de Gallo)

By Rebeka and Tec from the Hollyhock Kitchen

Did you know that 2016 is the year of the Legume? The recipe that follows is something all our Chefs at Hollyhock make most weeks, if not multiple times.  Beans are so healthy for us, and delicious!

Bean Facts (Recipe to follow)

  • Protein. The daily requirement of protein is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men.
  • Sodium. A 1-cup serving of boiled pinto beans contains only 2 milligrams of sodium.
  • Fiber. Pinto beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans.Women should aim to consume between 21 and 25 grams of fiber each day, while men should get between 30 and 38 grams. 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. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, pinto beans provide virtually fat-free, high quality protein. But this is far from all pinto beans have to offer. Pinto beans are also an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of folate, and a good source of protein, vitamin B1, and vitamin B6 as well as the minerals copper, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Check a chart of the fiber content in foods and you’ll see legumes leading the pack. Pinto beans, like other beans, are rich in fiber. A cup of cooked pinto beans provides over 15 grams. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that combines with bile (which contains cholesterol) and ferries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, the dietary fiber found in pinto beans helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, pinto beans can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fiber foods.

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  • Replenish Iron Stores-In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, pinto beans can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with pinto beans is a good idea—especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, pinto beans are low in calories and virtually fat-free. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And remember: If you’re pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron.
  • Sensitive to Sulfites? Pinto Beans Can Help Pinto beans are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites. Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars. People who are sensitive to sulfites in these foods may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation if sulfites are unwittingly consumed. If you have ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them.

Prepping Your Beans

We generally soak beans the night before we wish to cook them, in a good amount of water, which they will slowly absorb.  We additionally add a strip of kombu seaweed to tenderize. You can also cook your legumes in vegetable stock instead of water for added flavour, but do not add any salt or acidic ingredients like tomatoes or lemon juice as they will toughen the beans and greatly increase cooking time. As a general rule, wait until beans are done or nearly done cooking before seasoning. Remove the kombu once cooking is finished. You can find kombu in your local natural foods store or in ethnic markets. Adding a slice or two of ginger or some fennel or Cumin seeds can also help. Additionally, skimming and discarding the foam during boiling is also an effective means of gas reduction.

Beans are truly loved by everyone and so easy to prepare.  It is best to purchase beans in a store that has high volume so you know your beans are fresh, as they will cook quicker and be more flavourful and tender.


Frijoles de la Olla (Stewed Beans w/Pico de Gallo)

Serves 6-8


  • 2 cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 whole jalapeño, plus 12 stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 12 small yellow onion, plus 14 minced
  • 2 bay leafs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 14 cup minced cilantro
  • 1 tomato, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • Crumbled cotija cheese and flour tortillas, for serving ( feta cheese can be substituted)


Bring beans, garlic, whole jalapeño, 12 whole onion, and 8 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, season with salt and pepper, and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until beans are just tender, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Meanwhile, make pico de gallo by stirring together the remaining jalapeño and onion with cilantro and tomato in a small bowl until combined. Ladle beans into serving bowls, and top with pico de gallo and cotija. Serve with warm tortillas.

– Rebeka, Tec and the Hollyhock Kitchen Team

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