Jess’s Bean Recipe

While I was over in NYC the ever lovely Jess made a splendid vegetarian platter for us to enjoy. One of the things on this platter were heirloom beans, big, flavorsome beans that I couldn’t get enough of, so I asked for the recipe. And since I can’t ever find it when I need it (like now) I’ve decided to post it up for posterity:

  1. First up, find yourself some good, dried beans – ideally not too old. Jess recommends cranberry beans from Rancho Gordo who have a fine selection of heirloom beans. Unfortunately they don’t ship to the UK, so I ended up using a local supermarket packet of crab eye beans (barbunya) and they’ve worked out just fine (if not as wonderful as Jess’s!)
  2. Soak your beans overnight, at least 8 hours. I’ve been using filtered water and changing the water semi-regularly as this helps reduce the bean chemicals that makes you less popular at social events (if you get my drift). If you end up soaking them too much just put them in the fridge to stop them fermenting. The beans will at least double in size, so allow for that, and once they’ve soaked the skins should look a little bit wrinkly. Don’t worry – they’ll absorb more fluid in the next steps.
  3. Once ready, quarter an onion and about 4/5 cloves of garlic and throw in a pan with some olive oil. Cook until nice and brown.
  4. Drain the beans and put them in the browned onions, cover with plenty of water and add some ground pepper. Bring to the boil then pop in a bay leaf (don’t forget to take this out at the end.
  5. Boil for 30 minutes, then turn to medium high.
  6. After 15 minutes add some vegetable broth and salt and keep cooking. You’ll have to keep checking at this point to see how tender the beans are.
  7. Once they’re done, drain and eat! Or put in the fridge for a handy bean salad for the week. Yum!

It’s a great simple dish, dirt cheap, good for you and handy for lunches. The only downside is remembering to soak the beans the night before. So thanks for that Jess, you’ll make a vegetarian of me yet!

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