Santa Maria-Style Beans

The barbecue of Santa Maria, California, is famous for delicious smoked tri-tip, and it’s always accompanied by a pot of pinquito beans. This legume, a cross between white and pinto beans, is grown only in the Santa Maria Valley. You can order them online, use standard pintos or experiment with other varieties of heirloom beans, such as Eye of Goat (which I used here) or Yellow Indian Woman. Using a pressure cooker yields tender beans that hold their shape in about a third of the usual cooking time. If you don’t have one, soak the legumes overnight, and cook them in simmering water for 2 hours, or until tender. Cooking time will vary, depending on the size and age of the beans. Use any leftovers to make kick-ass burritos the next day.


  • 1 package pinquito beans or pinto beans (12 ounces)
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (or 1 dried bay leaf)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 thick slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can no-salt-added diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sherry (or red wine vinegar)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


  • Sort through the beans, discarding any stones or split beans. Place beans in a 6-quart pressure cooker, and add water to cover by 2 inches. Lock lid in place, and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat, and cook 2 minutes. Release pressure using automatic pressure release OR carefully transfer cooker to sink, and run cool water over rim until pressure drops. Remove lid, tilting lid away from you, to allow steam to escape. Drain beans.
  • Return beans to pressure cooker. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Add bay leaves and thyme sprig. Lock lid in place, and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat, and cook 45 minutes, or until tender.
  • While the beans cook, place the bacon in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until the bacon renders its fat and becomes crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and drain bacon on a paper towel. Increase heat to medium-high. Add onion and serrano to drippings in pan, and saute 3 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic, and saute 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and mustard, scraping pan to loosen any brown bits. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until thick. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Release pressure on cooker, using automatic pressure release OR carefully transfer cooker to sink, and run cool water over rim until pressure drops. Remove lid, tilting lid away from you, to allow steam to escape. Sample the beans. If they’re not quite tender, replace the lid, and bring the cooker back up to high pressure, and cook another 10-15 minutes. If the beans are tender, drain them through a colander set over a bowl. Reserve 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprig.
  • Stir beans, cooked bacon and reserved cooking liquid into tomato mixture. Simmer 20 minutes, and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with cilantro.
Servings: 8
Note: Cook time is 65-80 minutes.
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How to Plan, Prep, and Cook Easy Weeknight Meals (without spending hours in the kitchen)

3 steps to making simple, nourishing meals possible night after night so you spend less, enjoy more, and have time and energy to live a richer, more delicious life.

Hey there ... I'm Lia Huber

Hey there ... I'm Lia Huber

My mission is to inspire and equip you to live a richer life through real food by becoming a more competent, confident home cook.

I’m the author of Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith, and Enduring Love, founder and CEO of Nourish Evolution, and the creator of Cook the Seasons, Home Cooking School, and the Real Food Reset, and I empower intentional women to cook in a way that brings them (and their families) joy, health, and ease.

Making the shift from processed food to real food doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an evolution that occurs over time, with effort, intention, and belief. And it will change the course of your life. Are you ready to take the first step? I’m so glad you’re here … and I’m honored to be with you on the journey to becoming nourished!



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