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Pinto Bean Enchiladas

This recipe for pinto bean enchiladas is from the book, Vegan Family Meals, by Ann Gentry

Author Ann Gentry writes:

This is a standout recipe that I’ve been making since I started cooking. Although it requires some advance preparation as you must prepare the beans from scratch the actual assembly and cooking time is minimal, and the payoff is well worth the planning. The main reason why the beans must be prepared from scratch is that rather than relying upon loads of cheese to bind the enchiladas, this recipe creates a sauce from the beans cooking liquid, which is thickened with flour and then poured over the bean-filled tortillas. Although the bulk of the recipe is cheese-free, if you would like to add shreds of your favorite vegan cheese, feel free to dust the top with a layer and broil for the last few minutes of cooking.

Cooks&Books&Recipes Featured Cook Sheri:

I started with the beans one night after work–really simple, just cook dried beans in a pot with some kombu. Don’t skip this step and use canned pintos–they’re not nearly as good, and the bean stock is then used for the enchilada sauce. Standard dried pintos will work fine, but I’m a bean nut so I’ve always got plenty of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans in my pantry–I used Rio Zape beans in place of standard pintos.

The enchilada sauce is quick and easy, and it has a bit of heat from cayenne pepper. It gets depth and flavor from the bean stock and we liked it quite a bit. Some of the sauce goes into the roughly mashed cooked beans for the filling. Once the sauce and the filling are done, the enchiladas can be formed and held in the refrigerator. I premade sauce and the filling one night, and put everything together after work the following evening.

Just a half hour in the oven, and you’ve got fragrant, bubbling hot pinto bean enchiladas. Believe me, you won’t miss the cheese. I bought handmade-style corn tortillas, and I think it made a difference because the flavors in the dish are so clean. The finished dish is topped with a tofu sour cream that adds tang and cools the heat of the sauce. It doesn’t taste like sour cream on its own, but it doesn’t have to–it stands as a great compliment when topping the enchilada.

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Pinto Bean Enchiladas
Photo credit: Larry Klein, Pork Cracklins

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Pinto Bean Enchiladas

Featured Recipe From: Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 (makes 12 enchiladas)


Beans and Stock

  • About 9 cups water
  • 1½ cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 (6 by 2-inch) piece dried kombu

Enchilada Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 1½ tablespoons umeboshi paste
  • Fine sea salt


  • ¼ cup neutral cooking oil, plus more as needed
  • 12 fresh corn tortillas
  • Fine sea salt
  • Tofu Sour Cream (recipe follows)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Tofu Sour Cream, Makes about 1½ cups

  • 1 (12.3-ounce) container vacuum packed firm silken tofu (such as Mori-Nu)
  • 2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill


Beans and Stock:

Combine 7 cups of the water, the beans, and kombu in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer gently until the beans and kombu are tender, about 1½ hours. Drain the beans, reserving the bean stock. You should have about 3 cups of stock. Return the beans and kombu to the pan and mash with a potato masher until some bits of beans still remain and the kombu is completely mashed. Set the bean mixture aside. Add enough of the remaining 2 cups water to the bean stock to equal 5 cups total, then set the stock aside.

Enchilada Sauce:

Heat the 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender and becoming golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cayenne pepper, coriander, and cumin. Stir in the flour. Add the reserved bean stock, whisking constantly to blend. Whisk in the tamari and umeboshi. Simmer gently, whisking occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the flavors blend, about 10 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt. Set the sauce aside.


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spoon 2 cups of the sauce over the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Heat the ¼ cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, fry the tortillas, one at a time, in the oil until the tortillas begin to crisp slightly but are still very pliable, about 20 seconds per side. Lay the fried tortillas on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Add more oil to the pan as needed when frying the tortillas.

Stir ¾ cup of the sauce into the mashed beans, then season the beans to taste with salt.

Working with 1 tortilla at a time, lay a tortilla on the work surface. Spoon a generous 3 tablespoons of the bean mixture in a log shape up the center of the tortilla, and roll up the tortilla like a cigar. (Each enchilada will be about 1 inch in diameter.) Repeat with the remaining tortillas and bean mixture, placing the enchiladas seamside-down in the prepared baking dish.

Spoon the remaining sauce over the enchiladas. Bake until the sauce bubbles and the enchiladas are heated through, about 30 minutes. Top with the tofu sour cream and sprinkle with the scallions and cilantro.

Do-Ahead Tip: To make these enchiladas ahead, reserve all of the sauce. Roll up the enchiladas, and place them in a dish without any sauce. (Keeping the sauce separate ensures that the enchiladas don't become soggy.) The enchiladas and the sauce can be stored separately, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days. When you're ready to bake and serve the enchiladas, pour about 2 cups of the sauce into the baking dish under the enchiladas, then pour the rest of the sauce all over the enchiladas and bake as directed.

Tofu Sour Cream

This is my go-to sour cream: It's quick to put together, and I've been using it ever since I started cooking. The umeboshi vinegar gives it a real kick. I often alternate my herbs, sometimes replacing the dill with basil or a combination of basil and oregano.

Blend the tofu, vinegar, oil, dry mustard, and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Transfer the tofu sour cream to a container. Stir in the dill. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

© 2011 Ann Gentry

Reprinted with permission from Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone, by Ann Gentry (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

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