Friday, March 6, 2009

Giant Chipotle White Beans

I've had this recipe on my menu plan for weeks now, and I'm so glad I finally got around to making it last weekend. It is a recipe with several steps, so you may want to make it over a day or two. It's a great vegetarian meal that doesn't make you feel like something's missing. Flavorful, slightly spicy, warm, rich, and filling - yum!

Giant Chipotle White Beans (adapted from

1 pound of large, dried white beans (corona, giant limas, gigantes, or any giant white beans you can find), rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight - or up to 24 hours. You can follow the directions below, or if you'd rather use canned beans, use 2-3 cans of rinsed white beans.

Chipotle-tomato sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 big pinches of red pepper flakes
2 pinches of salt
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 t. oregano, dried
1 1/2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers or chipotle salsa

Cilantro Pesto:
1 medium clove of garlic
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
big pinch of salt

1 cup feta cheese

1 1/2 cup whole-grain breadcrumbs, toasted in a pan with 1 T. olive oil (I just used panko)

To prepare the beans: Drain and rinse the beans after their overnight soak. Then place them in a large saucepan and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are cooked through and just tender. This can take anywhere from an hour to two hours (potentially more) depending on your beans, but do your best to avoid overcooking. Remove from heat, salt the beans (still in bean broth) with about a tablespoon of salt - enough that the bean liquid is tasty but on the salty side. Let the beans sit like this for ten minutes or so before draining and setting the beans aside.

In the meantime, make your tomato sauce. Place the 2 tablespoons olive oil, red pepper flakes, couple pinches of salt, and chopped garlic into a cold medium saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant - you don't want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and the fresh oregano and heat to a gentle simmer, this takes just a couple minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the adobo sauce or chipotle salsa. Taste and correct seasonings.

Make the cilantro pesto by combining the clove of garlic and cilantro in a food processor. Pulse while you drizzle in the olive oil - alternately, you could do this by hand. Season with a bit of salt and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. In a 9x13 baking pan (or large oven-proof casserole/dutch oven) toss the beans with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in the top-third of the oven for roughly twenty-five to forty minutes, I look for the cheese to start browning and any visible beans to get a bit crusty. Remove from oven and let sit for about ten minutes. Top the beans with the breadcrumbs and just before serving, drizzle with the cilantro pesto.

Serves about 6.

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