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Lamb's Quarters with Beans: Quelites con Frijoles by Karen Hursh Graber © 2005

Just as the green known commonly as lamb's quarters goes by many different names north of the border -- among them, goosefoot, pigweed and mutton tops -- so does it have myriad names in Mexico, depending upon the region and indigenous language. Originally a wild Old World green, it was naturalized in North America and became an important part of the diet in nearly every part of Mexico where people gather wild greens. It appears in soups and stews, and is especially compatible with beans to make a hearty vegetarian main or side dish. Although generally considered to be tastier than spinach, baby spinach leaves may be substituted in this recipe with good results.


  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chile seeds (from ancho, guajillo or any mild dried red chile)
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans
  • 1 ½ pounds quelites or baby spinach leaves
  • salt to taste


Heat the corn oil in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic and chile seeds and cook until the onion is just beginning to wilt.

Add the pinto beans and quelites and continue cooking until the greens have wilted. Add salt to taste.

For a vegetarian meal, serve with white rice. Leftover diced pork is a good addition for meat eaters. Serves 4.

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Published or Updated on: July 1, 2005 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2008
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Follow Karen as she travels through the Central Mexican state of Puebla, meeting local cooks, tasting the food, and collecting recipes. With over 75 recipes, plus sections on ingredients and cooking techniques, the book takes the reader on a journey through one of Mexico's oldest and most renowned culinary regions. It can be ordered online.

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