I’ve been hearing the internet chatter about the wonders of Rancho Gordo beans for a while, but with no Whole Foods in my town (yet), I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to try them unless I ordered them. But then I saw them in The Fresh Market (which I usually call the Froo-Froo Market because of its fancy prices) and couldn’t resist picking up these pretty Yellow-Eye Beans:
First, let me just say–Ouch! That pound of beans cost me $7-something plus tax. Regular old navy beans in Kroger cost less than a dollar a pound, and if I think too long about how many bucks I could be saving for my daughter’s education, I’d never buy fancy beans again. But these beans were very good–they cooked quickly in the pressure cooker, became tender without falling apart, and, most importantly, are organically grown. I won’t be shelling out the big bucks for them every day, but I was happy with their flavor and eager to try some of Rancho Gordo’s other varieties.
For my first foray into fancy-bean territory, I made a relatively simple stew modeled on a traditional Chilean dish called Porotos Granados, which is usually made with fresh cranberry beans and topped with a pesto-like mixture of herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley) and hot peppers called pebre. To me, the one ingredient that makes the flavor of porotos granados different from other South American bean stews is the fresh basil, so I wanted to try a variation of it while my basil plants were still thriving. Because I like to make everything I can a one-pot meal by adding veggies, I threw in a bunch of lacinato kale. I skipped the pebre (many of you know my intolerance for cilantro), increased the seasonings significantly, and served it with some Tabasco garlic sauce. My husband loved it, I really liked it, and my daughter E (who currently claims to hate white beans and squash) ate it under protest and thought it contained too much basil. Since I’ve given up on E loving anything but pasta, I consider that a success.
- 1 pound dried yellow-eye or navy beans, soaked overnight or quick soaked
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 cups water
- 4 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 pound cubed winter squash or pumpkin (I used butternut), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted preferred)
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 bunch kale (about 12 ounces), removed from stems and sliced
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- Make sure to rinse your beans first and check for rocks and then soak overnight in cold water. Or do a quick soak by boiling the beans in enough water to cover by an inch for one minute, and then cover and allow to stand for at least an hour. Drain before proceeding with the recipe.
- Heat a pressure cooker or large Dutch oven. Add the onions and a pinch of baking soda (optional but speeds up the browning). Cook until onion is soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the beans, water, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, and dried basil to the pot. Bring to a boil. If pressure cooking, seal your cooker and bring to high pressure. Cook at high pressure for 8 minutes; then perform a quick release. If cooking in a regular pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until beans are just barely cooked all the way through, 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Check pot occasionally and add more water to cover the beans if it seems low.
- Add the squash along with the remaining seasonings, peppers, tomatoes, and salt, if using. Seal the cooker and cook at high pressure for 8 more minutes. Let pressure come down naturally; after 15 minutes, quick release pressure if necessary. For stovetop cooking, add more water if necessary to cover all ingredients. Cover and simmer until beans and squash are very tender.
- Check the seasoning and add more cumin, oregano, or salt to taste. Add the kale and corn and simmer, covered, until the kale is tender. Stir in the basil and cook for another minute before serving.
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