The 2 Types Of Beans You Should Always Have Handy For Mexican Dishes

From adding texture to chili to filling tacos or serving mashed as a side, beans are a staple in numerous Mexican dishes. And while it may be pretty common to use pinto beans in those recipes, there's another bean that doesn't seem to get featured in as many American variations on those dishes, yet those beans are consumed in parts of Mexico. Black beans are used in many South American and Caribbean meals, but they're also popular in Mexico's Yucatan region. Recipes for Yucatan-style black beans are prepared in a mashed or refried style similar to refried pinto beans. 

Although they're eaten in a number of countries around the world, black beans have gained popularity outside of Latin American cuisine in recent years, partially because like many other types of beans, they're inexpensive and versatile. Both pinto and black beans have their place in Mexican-style recipes and each adds its own unique texture and flavor to dishes.

Black beans are ideal for soup

Preparing Mexican-style black beans with rice, and sometimes corn can be something that's as easy as a one-pot dish. Although they're a delicious accompaniment to rice, black beans with their slightly earthy flavor are tasty enough to include as the main course in your meals. Since beans are an excellent protein source and are filling as well, they make a great addition to soups, but black beans are also perfect as the star of their own soup.

If you decide to make black bean soup, it can be enjoyed in a number of textures — as a smoother soup by pureeing the beans, leaving them whole, or as a soup that falls somewhere in between with a chunky consistency that has some pureed beans and some whole. And, black beans are substantial enough to hold up well when put into a shell and served up with your favorite toppings. Yes, black bean tacos are a good choice for your next Meatless Monday dinner, or anytime you want to opt for a healthy, plant-based meal.

Pinto beans make the perfect mash

Refried beans are the quintessential Mexican bean dish, and although you can make them with black beans, most refried beans are made using pinto beans. These tan-colored beans are preferred for refried beans since they have a buttery consistency, making them easier to mash than firmer bean types, like kidney or black beans. But just like black beans, pinto beans are versatile enough to include in other dishes.

Pinto bean soup, or sopa de frijoles, is a Mexican soup made with tomatoes, cumin, broth, and pinto beans, that can be a vegetarian dish or easily made vegan. Although there's nothing cozier than a bowl of soup, when warmer weather hits, or you just want a hand-held meal, pinto beans are a great filling for burritos or spread on a tostada for a crunchier option. Although it's not a traditional Mexican dish, pinto beans feature heavily in Frito pie, a Tex-Mex staple that combines ground beef, refried beans, tomato sauce, and taco seasoning, topped with cheese and crunchy corn chips, all baked in a casserole dish. No matter what you decide to make, if you keep black and pinto beans on hand, you'll always be able to whip up a flavorful Mexican-style side dish or meal whenever a craving hits.