The Anasazi were an indigenous people who lived in the southwestern corner of Colorado thousands of years ago. The word Anasazi (pronounced ah-nah-saw-zee) is a Navajo word meaning 'ancient ones.' They were cliff dwellers who carved their intricate homes into the sandstone of the Mesa Verde area of southwestern Colorado. They were also accomplished agronomists and developed a sophisticated and extensive irrigation system for their crops which were primarily corn and beans.
The Anasazi bean is similar in shape and size to the pinto bean, but is mottled red and white in color. The story goes that a 1500 year old sealed clay pot was discovered at an archeological dig at Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado. The sealed pot was sent to the Colorado State University Agronomy Department for study and safekeeping. Several years later, an graduate student in Agronomy at CSU found the pot in an old cabinet, opened it, found the red and white beans inside and attempted to sprout them in the university hothouse. Much to the student and his professor's relief and surprise, several of the beans sprouted and thrived. The seeds were harvested and replanted for several years until enough seeds were stored to plant an entire field of beans. The beans were dubbed Anasazi after the people who inhabited the dwellings where the clay pot was found.
Anasazi beans cook more quickly than pinto beans and have a mild sweetness to them. They are an excellent substitute for any recipe calling for pinto beans and the fact that they cook more quickly is bonus to anyone who knows how long it can take to prepare a pot of beans!
Before me, Yeoldfurt had a deep-seated aversion to beans. I found that out the hard way when the very first meal I cooked for him was Sloppy Joes ...with beans. I was completely dumbfounded by his reaction when he saw the beans because I did, after all, only cook what was already in his cupboard. But after he explained his Emergency Bean policy (one can to be kept on hand ...but eaten ONLY in case of emergency ...lol), I adjusted my cooking to accommodate him.
Nine years later and feeling semi-secure that he likes my cooking, I meekly suggested one day that he let me show him what GOOD BEANS could be like. He loves Cajun food, so I made him Red Beans and Rice. I made some fresh cornbread to go with it in case he was completely unable to eat the beans. But he loved it. For the past two years, he's even requested Red Beans and Rice for supper all on his own. A year or so after that, I tried another bean recipe on him (recipe here) with surprising success. So a couple of weeks ago, I decided it is now time to broaden his bean palate and introduce him to the Anasazi beans.
I decided on Anasazi beans because I thought Yeoldfurt, being a Native American himself, might appreciate the historical significance of this little legume. I figured if he liked them, we would plant some in our garden for next year.
Saturday morning I decided to make a small pot of Anasazi beans. It can take hours to make a pot of beans, even if you pre-soak them overnight. But that's one of my favorite things about Anasazi bean. They need to be rinsed, but don't need to be soaked which saves a lot of time. I measured one cup of beans, rinsed them, and added them to the pot with three cups of water. I brought it to a full rolling boil, then turned it down to low and put the lid on. They cooked down to the tender stage in about 30 minutes. While they were simmering, I cooked a three slices of bacon in the oven and diced up a medium yellow onion. When the bacon was done, I put the diced onion in the bacon grease and returned it to the oven for a few minutes until the onion was soft and translucent. While the onion was cooking, I ate the three slices of bacon ...breakfast. Yum! When the beans were tender, I added the onions and bacon drippings to the beans, along with salt, pepper and several dashes of Cajun Seasoning. I let them simmer another five minutes, then took them off the burner to cool. When they were still only slightly warm, I moved them to the serving dish I would use tonight and put them in the refrigerator. Thirty minutes before supper time, I warmed up the beans and made rice in the same proportions (one cup rice, three cups water). Since Yeoldfurt is as adamant about having actual meat at every supper meal as he used to be about no beans at any meal ...I also cut up a link of kielbasa to throw in with the rice and beans. I made a half recipe of cornbread and we had a cheap, easy but nutritious supper.
Yeoldfurt was skeptical and I was downright nervous about that first spoonful. But he enjoyed it enough to go back for seconds so now I'm three for three on bean recipes with him. Guess it would be safe for me to start figuring out where to plant beans in our fall garden.