Anasazi Bean Enchiladas

I have been drawn to the Four Corners area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado since my childhood family vacation there in 1969.   Enchanted by the native culture, I read the Book of the Hopi from cover to cover.  The dog-eared copy traveled with me from Canyon De Chelly to Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde, the ancestral homes of the Anasazi which dates back to 130 A.D.

Other family vacations took us to the Hopi lands of Arizona and many active pueblos.  Even at that young age, I was struck by the connection the native tribes had with the earth and its cycles and, as a result, the strength of character each individual carries with them.

Archaeologists have discovered that this ancient culture was well established.  They had trade routes all across the west and Aztec history indicates a common heritage–even speaking the same language.

Among the mesa-top ruins and abandoned cliff-dwelling structures, remnants of the foods they ate were still in the clay pots and hand-woven baskets.  Early 20th century travelers discovered dried beans, an ancient variety easily adapted to the often harsh conditions of the Southwestern desert landscape.

We now have Anasazi beans from those recovered beans. They are interchangeable in recipes with pinto beans and have an added bonus of 75% less gas-causing carbohydrates. I use them in moles, baked beans, soups and salads.


This enchilada recipe is a real crowd-pleaser and the beans also make an excellent side dish.

Anasazi Bean Enchiladas

Anasazi Beans

Makes 4 cups

1 cup dried Anasazi beans, soaked overnight and drained
4 cups water
1 one inch piece of kombu
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 cup sweet onions, diced
¼ cup cilantro, minced
½  teaspoon ground cumin
½  teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ tablespoon agave nectar
1 cup diced ripe tomatoes
1 cup water

Put soaked beans, water, kombu and bay leaf in a large sauce pan or soup pot.  Simmer on low heat for one hour or until beans are soft.  Drain.  In a large saucepan on medium heat, add olive oil, then garlic, jalapeno and onions until the onions are clear around the edges.  Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the beans, stir thoroughly and mash half way.  Simmer another 10 minutes.  Reserve.

Salsa Verde

Makes 2 cups

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
1 Anaheim chile, seeded and diced
¼ cup cilantro stems, minced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 ¼ cup raw pepitas
2 cups cilantro leaves
¾ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups water

In a small sauce pan on medium high heat, cook the oil, garlic, onion and chile for 2 minutes.  Add cilantro, vinegar and lime juice, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook another 4 minutes.  In a blender or food processor, grind the pepitas to a coarse meal.  Add cilantro, sea salt, water and the cooked sauce pan ingredients, puree.  Transfer back into the sauce pan and simmer on extra low heat for 5 minutes.  Add water if the sauce thickens too much.

Corn Tortillas

1 package 5 to 6 inch corn tortillas

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, arrange tortillas on the trays and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the tortillas start to brown.


1 cup red onions, diced
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 cup toasted pepitas
½ teaspoon sea salt

Optional garnish:
1 ½ cups avocado, diced


Take ½ cup of salsa and add 2 cups of water to it.  Bring it to a simmer in a small saute pan and submerge a tortilla until it softens, then place it in a 9×14 glass baking dish.  Add ¼ cup of beans to the tortilla and wrap it around.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Cover each enchilada with salsa.  Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

To serve, place 2 tablespoons salsa on a plate, place an enchilada on top and sprinkle garnishes on top.  Serve hot.

Copyright 2011 George Vutetakis

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