Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The All-American Low-Gas Bean

It's not a gas-free bean like the manteca bean, but the Rocky Mountains' Anasazi bean comes close.

Having a mottled white and maroon coat reminiscent of a purple Appaloosa pony, the Anasazi bean has none of the slightly toxic tannins found in the much better known pinto and white beans, and much less of the gas-inducing lectins found in better known beans.

Anasazi beans have been cultivated in the American southwest for at least 1,500 years. An often-repeated story has it that a research team from UCLA was looking for fossil evidence of pygmy elephants in the Four Corners area when they came upon a centuries-old pot containing Anasazi beans. When the researchers took the Anasazi beans to the lab, so the story goes, the fifteen centuries-old legumes sprouted!

Whether or not the tale of the discovery of the Anasazi bean is entirely factual, the Anasazi bean, also known as the Appaloosa bean, Aztec bean (after the New Mexico town near the location of its discovery, or cave bean (referring to the cave in which the first specimens were found) cooks in about 2/3 the time of a pinto bean to a creamy pink. Use them wherever you would use pintos in Southwestern cuisine.

And if you can't find them at your local store, you can find them at The New Mexican Connection here.

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