Baked Pinto Beans, Enchilada Style

MAKES: 6 servings

TIME: 40 to 60 minutes

Like Baked Lima Beans Parmigiana, this dish is dead easy (especially if beans and salsa have been made ahead) and versatile. Serve with hot tortillas, shredded cabbage, hot sauce, sour cream, and lime wedges the works, in other words.

Other beans you can use: black or kidney beans or any red or pink heirloom bean like appaloosa, cranberry, or anastazi.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 recipe Salsa Roja or Cooked Tomatillo Salsa (either chunky or pured as in the variations), warmed

4 cups cooked or drained canned pinto or pink beans

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup cubed Monterey Jack or Chihuahua cheese

1 cup crushed tortilla chips

1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400В°F. Use a tablespoon or so of the olive oil to grease a 2-quart souff or gratin dish or a 9 — 13-inch baking dish.

Spread the salsa in the dish and spoon the beans on top. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the cheese cubes around evenly, pressing them into the sauce and beans a bit. Sprinkle with the tortilla crumbs, then the queso fresco, and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.

Bake until the cheese has melted, the sauce is bubbly, and the tortilla chips are browned, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your dish. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the cilantro and a few more grinds of black pepper if you like, and serve.

Variations

Baked Pinto Beans and Sweet Potatoes, Enchilada Style. Heartier and, well, sweeter: Peel 2 large sweet potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. In Step 2, spread them out in the salsa, cover the baking dish with foil, and bake (without the beans and other ingredients) for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, add the beans and other ingredients, and proceed with the recipe.

Baked Black Beans and Corn, Enchilada Style. Use black beans instead of the pinto or pink beans. Add 1 cup corn kernels (frozen are fine; don’t bother to thaw them) to the beans and salsa.