I used to think beans were beans. Then I walked up the wooden steps into Phipps Country Store in Pescadero, CA and saw bin after bin of different colored beans–dozens of different kinds! Right then I realized that I had been wrong. “Heirlooms” they said, and after cooking with them, I fell in love. “Bean Basics” and “Dino Kale with White Beans” were the first things I taught as a cooking teacher.
But then, I moved to Montana and went back to beans in cans and generic beans in the bulk bins. Until I cooked some cannellinis from Italy and was reminded of what I was missing. I searched the internet for a domestic substitute and stumbled upon Rancho Gordo and read the story of how the late chef Marcella Hazan had asked Rancho Gordo to grow a domestic cannellini. And they did. Get to their website and load up on Marcella beans and some other stuff–free shipping when you hit $75!
Anyway, all you have to do with dried beans is get them cooked, and then enjoy them with olive oil, salt and some parm, or make yummy stuff like this vegetarian chili (thanks to Eating Well January/February 2017 issue, “Four-Bean & Pumpkin Chili”).
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced and mashed with 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 lb. dried beans, cooked (I used Rancho Gordo cranberry beans); about 6 cups cooked beans
- 1 kabocha squash (about a 2 pounder) or butternut squash; halved, seeded, peeled, and diced to 1" pieces
- 1 28oz. can San Marzano tomatoes (or other diced tomatoes)
- 4 cups water (or approximately 2 fills of the tomato can)
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- for serving: toasted pumpkin seeds, avocado, sour cream, smoked salt, lime wedges
- Warm the oil in a large dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the carrots, stir with wooden spoon, and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, give it a stir, and cook for a minute or two.
- Add the beans, squash, tomatoes, and a couple tomato cans of water and raise the heat to high. If the tomatoes are whole, I snip at them with a pair of kitchen shears to get them at least cut in half, ideally quartered. Add the chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with assorted toppings: pumpkin seeds, avocado slices, sour cream, smoked salt, and lime wedges.