Old New World: Hopi pinto beans with green chile sauce and blue corn tortillas

soaked and drained pinto beans 

If I thought I could get away with it like Amélie Poulain, I would be forever sticking my hands into barrels of dried beans. They're like treasure chests of lovely small gems: so smooth, so many colors. I may be prone to fits of whimsy but I'm no cinematic ingenue; I keep my hands to myself.

Today's bean is the marvelous Pinto bean, cooked up in a Hopi bean stew served with green chile sauce and blue corn tortillas.


Hopi pinto beans

makes 6-8 servings 

  • 2 1/2 cups dried Pinto beans, washed and soaked overnight
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 square inch dried Kombu
  • salt to taste

Rinse soaked beans and add to a pot along with the water and dried Kombu. 

Simmer for three hours or until beans are tender, adding water as needed and stirring occasionally.  Remove Kombu.

Add salt to taste; I used 1 tsp.

Serve over tortillas topped with chile sauce. 

green chile sauce 

makes about 3 cups 

  • 1 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 6 green chiles, seeds removed, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped

Heat the sunflower oil in a pot over medium heat. Add chiles, stir, then add tomatoes. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add onions and continue cooking until tender, about another 8 minutes.

peppers and tomatoes simmering for green chile sauce

blue corn tortillas 

makes 6

  • 1 cup blue cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup + 2 TBSP water
  • sunflower oil

Mix cornmeal and water until dough is pliable and moist, not sticky or wet. You may need to add more cornmeal or more water to get the right texture. 

Shape dough into 6 balls. 

Flatten balls with hands, rolling pin or tortilla press between sheets of waxed paper. 

Cook on a lightly oiled pan over medium heat until browned, about 4 minutes on each side.



You can make the beans earlier in the day or up to a few days beforehand.  Remove kombu, stir in salt and let cool for an hour if not using immediately and store beans in their cooking liquid, covered in the refrigerator. While not traditional, the kombu adds a nice savory note. The kombu will expand and may disintegrate a bit.

I used Poblano peppers for the chiles, but you can use hotter or milder chiles as you like. The green chile sauce isn't a thin sauce or even a chunky salsa - it's a pretty rough chop.

Blue corn tortillas are trickier than yellow corn tortillas - the dough goes from too wet to too dry very quickly when adding extra cornmeal and the pressed, uncooked dough is prone to cracking. They're very delicate, so take your time and don't worry if you mess the first few up. I certainly did!

Recipes, some slightly adapted, from Hopi Cookery by Juanita Tiger Kavena.

Hopi pinto beans with green chile sauce and blue corn tortillas