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Pinto bean chili with pan-roasted spices and chipotle

Pinto bean chili with pan-roasted spices and chipotle

Although I’ve created many recipes for different kinds of chili, the one I love most is this pinto bean chili with pan-roasted spices. Dry-roasting cumin and coriander seeds in a hot pan gives these two spices a depth and nuttiness that permeates the dish. As I hand-grind the roasted spices in a mortar, the whole kitchen comes alive with their intense aroma. (Any recipe that starts this way, in my book, is a good dish!)

Food & wine pairing: California, Zinfandel with pinto bean chili

Red wine icon
A California Zinfandel is fabulous with this chili. I’m especially fond of the exceptional wines from Ridge Vineyards. Year after year, they make single-vineyard Zinfandels that are a delight to discover and to enjoy!


Pinto Beans


Pinto bean chili with pan-roasted spices and chipotle – served with quinoa

serves 4
active time: 40 min

  1. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  2. 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  3. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  4. 2 medium Vidalia onions – peeled and cut in 1/4″ dices
  5. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  6. 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground chipotle to taste
  7. 2 garlic cloves – skinned and minced
  8. 1 – 4 1/2 oz (130 g) canned chopped green chilis
  9. 1 – 28 oz (795 g) canned peeled whole plum tomatoes – coarsely puréed in a food processor
  10. 1 1/4 cups tomato juice
  11. 6 cups cooked pinto beans
  12. reserved cooking liquid from the beans (only if needed)
  13. 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
  14. 2 tablespoons Tequila
  15. 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  1. 1 1/2 recipes quinoa
  2. 1/2 cup sour cream
  3. 6 scallions – trimmed and cut crosswise in 1/8″ slices

  1. Step 1: Heat a small heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and cook until they turn deep golden and are fragrant — about 2 minutes — shaking the pan constantly and taking care not to burn the spices. Transfer to a mortar and grind until coarsely ground.
  2. Step 2: Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onions and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions have softened and begun to caramelize, stirring from time to time. Add the roasted seeds, chili powder, chipotle, garlic and green chilis and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the puréed tomatoes and tomato juice, mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Add the beans and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat again, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the chili has thickened, stirring from time to time to prevent it from sticking to the pan. (If chili gets too thick, thin with a little reserved cooking water from the beans.)
  3. Step 3: When the chili is ready, remove from heat. Add the salt, Tequila and cilantro and stir well (taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary). Spoon the quinoa in large bowls. Top with the chili. Garnish with a little sour cream and scallions. Serve immediately.
  4. Cook’s note: To double the recipe, double all the ingredients and cooking times, except for the last stage. Once the beans are added to the chili/tomato base, add 5 minutes to the cooking time or cook the beans for 25 minutes.


Pinto bean chili with pan-roasted spices and chipotle

chipotle, chili, pinto beans

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14 Comments

  • Reply Kiri W. February 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    This looks so creamy and spicy :) Love that you toast the spices for extra-flavor. Gorgeous pictures, too!

  • Reply mjskit February 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Love this recipe! I’ve never thought of serving a bean chili over quinoa. It sounds and looks delicious!

  • Reply Donna Ford February 2, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Viviane, I’m drooling! And the wine looks delicious. Perfect match! :)

  • Reply Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) January 31, 2012 at 10:09 am

    I love this chili, especially the toasted spices. My goodness. Really lovely.

  • Reply vk March 31, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    thank you for showing me that i’m not the only one who eats chili with quinoa and thank you for the suggested wine pairings.

  • Reply Divina March 12, 2010 at 12:58 am

    This sounds heavenly. The spices and chipotle are a great addition. A bowl of chili sounds masculine but you always have that feminine and elegant touch.

  • Reply Tokyo Terrace March 10, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Yum! I love meals like this one paired with a nice, robust wine like Zin. Great pairing! This would be a great addition to any Super Bowl spread. I’d love to top the bean dish with some avocado- but I’ll top just about anything with avocado…

  • Reply doggybloggy March 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    what a great bean dish and the wines – oh the wines!

  • Reply Scott K (Fight the Fat Foodie) March 9, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Chili sounds wonderful.

  • Reply Christine @ Fresh Local and Best March 8, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    This is such a wonderful wine tasting, and the fruit and spice notes in each of the zinfandels paired well with the chili. Great job! I will have to look out for Vinum Cellar Zin.

  • Reply Vegetable Matter March 8, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I love that even though your chili is for the Super Bowl, the machoest day in America, it is vegetarian. I like your creative ingredients, too — tequila, quinoa on the side. Sounds wonderful.

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