The herb epazote has a very distinct flavor and is frequently used to season a variety of Latin and Hispanic dishes including beans and soups. Chemical properties in this herb help relieve abdominal discomfort (gassiness) that can come from eating beans. The older leaves have a stronger flavor and should be used sparingly. Younger leaves have a milder, yet richer flavor.
Yield: about 61/2 cups cooked beans
- 2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans (about 1 pound)
- 2 cups coarsely chopped onion (about 1 large)
- 3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 sprigs fresh epazote
- 9 cups water
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Queso fresco (crumbling cheese)
- Sprigs fresh epazote
Spread beans on work surface, and sort to remove any foreign material or broken beans. Place in a colander and rinse thoroughly.
Place beans in a large Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic, oil, epazote, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, partially cover pan with lid, and simmer 3 hours, stirring occasionally, or until beans are desired tenderness. Add additional water, if needed, during cooking time to keep beans from sticking. Remove from heat, and add salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, spoon into bowls, and top with crumbled queso fresco. Garnish with sprigs fresh epazote, if desired.