The Rancho Gordo Heirloom Bean Grower’s Guide, Steve Sando’s 50 Favorite Varieties is full of photos and information on the history and use of these precious beans.

Makes 4 to 6 servings or 6 or 7 cups

1 cup heirloom chili beans (Santa Maria Pinquitos, Good Mother Stallard, Yellow Indian Woman, Appaloosa or other beans from Rancho Gordo,
6 cups water or mild-tasting vegetable broth (3 cups to soak, 3 cups to cook)
3-inch piece kombu sea vegetable
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil or high-heat blend (XVOO and Spectrum walnut oil; you prepare it yourself)
1 onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 carrot, diced
1 small green Bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1 tablespoon each oregano and cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet or hot), for extra heat (optional)
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes fire-roasted with sauce/juice, Muir Glen Organic, 1½ cups; or roast your own, 2 pounds tomatoes yields 1½ cups, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 4-oz. can diced fire-roasted whole green chilis, Hatch brand, ½ cup; or roast your own, peel, seed and chop
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or brown rice syrup
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped


Half an avocado, diced small
6 sprigs cilantro

1. Sort through beans for stones by spreading them on a white plate. Rinse beans in water to cover. Drain, and transfer to pressure cooker or pot. Bring to boil. Turn heat off and soak beans overnight or all day.

2. Drain beans. Add 3 cups fresh water to pot. Bring to boil and slow-boil uncovered for 5 minutes to allow initial gas to escape in the form of froth or steam. Scrape off and discard any froth. Add kombu and bay leaf and cover to cook in pot or bring to pressure. Turn heat low to cook for 30 minutes. Makes 32/3 cups Pinquito beans and their broth. Cut kombu in cubes and return to pot. Discard bay leaf.

3. Heat oil in a 3- or 4-quart pot. Add onion, garlic, carrot, green Bell pepper and sea salt. Stir and cook covered for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

4. Add remaining ingredients along with beans and their broth. Cook until flavors are blended, about 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro and cook a couple of minutes more. Top each serving with cubes of avocado and a sprig of cilantro.

Notes: If you choose to roast your own tomatoes and peppers, choose the larger peppers because they have more substance and milder heat. Good examples are Anaheim (mild heat) and poblano/pasilla peppers (medium heat). For more heat, choose fat jalapeno peppers. Taste to determine their heat before adding to the chili. You can oven roast tomatoes and sweet peppers at the same time, under a broiler or just in an oven or a toaster oven. Broil halved tomatoes, flat side up, and whole peppers until skins blister and brown, 20 to 30 minutes, longer in a toaster oven, turning every 5 minutes.