Cooking Heirloom Beans Easy-to-prepare, delicious & inexpensive

Heirloom beans “filled the cupboards” of our ancestors because dry beans keep for long periods without spoiling and are easy to prepare. Once hydrated by soaking them overnight in water, beans cook quickly in a pot on top of the stove (most beans are tender within 30 to 45 minutes). Simple seasonings, like a drizzle of fruity olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and fresh-ground pepper, enhance the flavor of beans. Pungent spices and aromatic herbs add savory depth to beans’ rich, meaty yet tender, flesh. A pot of heirloom beans is inexpensive to prepare and can be enjoyed for many meals over several days.

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Print this recipe Flageolet Bean Salad Serves 4

For French country cooks and Parisian gourmets, flageolet is the favorite bean. The attractive pale green color and delicate flavor make it a versatile addition to soups, salads and vegetarian dishes. Traditionally, flageolet is used as an accompaniment to roasted leg of lamb and French cassoulets.

  • ½ lb. dried flageolets
  • 3 tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup black olives, pitted
  • 3 tbsp. fruity olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 leaves torn fresh basil
  • ½ tsp. salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • roasted or fresh tomato slices for garnish.

Sort beans and soak overnight in bowl using 3 times as much water as beans. The next morning rinse beans with cool water. Put beans in medium pan and cover with two inches water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until beans are tender (about 45 minutes - 1 hour). Drain beans and let cool slightly.

Combine beans, onions and olives in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar over salad. Add minced garlic, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Toss gently. Garnish with tomatoes.

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Print this recipe Italian Rice Salad with Cranberry Beans Serves 4-6

Used in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese cuisine, cranberry beans are plump, pale pink with maroon markings. They have a rich, earthy, yet sweet mild flavor and are excellent in soups and salads, with pasta dishes and casseroles.

  • ¾ cup dried cranberry beans (1½ cup cooked)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup capers, drained
  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes (in oil), drained and chopped
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil for finishing salad
  • Fresh-ground black pepper

Sort beans and soak overnight in bowl using 3 times as much water as beans. The next morning rinse beans with cold water. Put beans in saucepan, cover with two inches of water and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until tender (35 to 45 minutes).

Wash rice thoroughly. In pot, place 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat; add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft. Add rice and stir, until the grains become opaque (3 minutes). Add 3 cups water, salt and stir gently until liquid comes to a boil. Cover tightly, lower heat and cook for 15 minutes until all the water has evaporated. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Turn rice out into large bowl to help it cool, gently breaking up any lumps. Add lemon juice and toss lightly to mix. Add capers, tomatoes, parsley, beans, olive oil, and pepper and gently toss.

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Print this recipe Greek-Style Baked Lima Beans Serves 4

Limas (also known as butter beans) are named after the city of Lima, Peru and are an ancient legume thought to be cultivated in North America around 1300s. Cream-colored, flat and kidney-shaped, limas have a buttery texture and delicate flavor.

  • ½ lb. dried large lima beans
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 large, fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano.

Sort beans and soak overnight in bowl using 3 times as much water as beans. The next morning rinse beans with cold water. Put drained beans in saucepan and cover with two inches of water. Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until tender (35-45 minutes). Drain beans reserving ½ cup liquid.

In large flame and ovenproof casserole, heat the oil, add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add carrots and cook another minute, then add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Add cooked limas, bean liquid, salt, pepper, parsley and oregano. Stir to mix. Put the casserole in preheated 325-degree oven and bake, uncovered for 1 hour. Serve hot.

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Print this recipe Quick Black Bean Salsa Serves 4-6

A favorite in South and Central American, Caribbean, and American Southwest cuisine, black turtle beans have a mild, sweet, earthy flavor that combine well with assertive seasonings like chili peppers and cumin. Use in spicy soups, stews and casseroles.

  • ½ lb. dried black beans
  • 32 ounces tomato salsa, from jar
  • 1½ cup frozen corn, thawed

Sort beans and soak overnight in bowl using 3 times as much water as beans. The next morning rinse beans thoroughly with cold water. Put beans in pot, cover with two inches of water and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until tender (35 to 45 minutes).

Combine cooked beans (about 2 cups) with salsa and thawed corn. Gently stir to combine. Serve with yellow corn chips for appetizer or entrée with rice.

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Print this recipe Cannellini Bean Soup Serves 4

Originally cultivated in Argentina and beloved in Italy, Cannellini beans are also known as white kidney beans. With a mild, nutty flavor and creamy texture, these ivory legumes are versatile - enjoy in soups, salads and pasta dishes.

  • ½ lb. dried Cannellini beans
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sort beans and soak overnight in bowl using 3 times as much water as beans. The next morning rinse beans thoroughly with cold water. In soup pot, sauté onion, carrots and celery in 2 tbsp. olive oil for 10 minutes. Add drained beans, fresh water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 1 - 1½ hour, until soup is thick and creamy and beans are tender. Season soup with salt and pepper; remove from heat and stir in remaining olive oil.

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Print this recipe Chili Beans with Fire Roasted Tomatoes Serves 2-4

Snowcap is an especially beautiful heirloom bean, ivory and coffee colored with burgundy markings. It cooks up plump with a rich, earthy, yet mild flavor and in this recipe simmers with fire-roasted tomatoes creating a thick, smoky, broth.

  • ½ lb. dried snowcap beans
  • ½ quart water
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp. salt

Sort beans and soak overnight in bowl using 3 times as much water as beans. The next morning rinse beans with cold water. In large pot combine drained beans, fresh water, onions, chili powder and garlic. Bring to simmer, then partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Stir in fire roasted tomatoes and salt and continue cooking until beans are very tender and broth is thick.

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Print this recipe Lentilles du Puy with Roasted Carrots and Beets Serves 6

This recipe was developed for the esteemed lentils from Le Puy (which have been granted an appellation d'origine contrôlée by the French government), but any French-style lentil will do.

  • 3 small beets, peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 4 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb. lentilles du Puy, or other French-style green lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°. Place beets, carrots, shallots, and 1/2 cup oil in a medium roasting pan. Stir to coat vegetables evenly with oil. Add parsley and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring once, until vegetables begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Add lentils and 3 cups of water, stir, then cover pan with foil. Cook until lentils are tender and all water is absorbed, about 1 hour.

Remove pan from oven. Remove and discard herb sprigs, then dress lentils with vinegar and remaining oil. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in chopped parsley. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Recipe Credit: Saveur Magazine

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Print this recipe Lentil Soup Serves 6-8

While many lentil soups are enriched with bacon, sausages, or ham hocks, this recipe is light, unadulterated, and full of pure lentil flavor.

  • 1 clove
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb. American brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh mint

Press clove into onion and place onion in a large saucepan. Add stock, bay leaf, lentils, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, skimming occasionally, until lentils are tender, 30–35 minutes.

Discard onion and bay leaf, and stir in garlic, thyme, and butter. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, just below a simmer, for 10 minutes, allowing flavors to blend. Season with salt and pepper, then ladle into bowls. Garnish with mint and serve. (If desired, soup can also be puréed before serving.)

Recipe Credit: Saveur Magazine

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Print this recipe Lentil Purée (Dal) Serves 4

The many dals of India differ not only in the lentil used but in the tarka—literally, "seasoning with oil".

  • FOR THE DAL:
  • 1/2 lb. imported red lentils (split), picked over and rinsed
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2'' piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • --
  • FOR THE TARKA:
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 3 dried red chiles
  • 6–8 fresh or dried curry leaves

Place lentils in a saucepan with onions, garlic, ginger, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a food mill or food processor and purée, then transfer to a clean saucepan.

Add 1 cup water and lemon juice, season with salt, then bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until dal is the consistency of thick soup, about 20 minutes. (If thick, add more water; if thin, simmer longer.)

Just before serving, prepare tarka: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds, chiles, and curry leaves. Fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer dal to 4 bowls, season with spiced oil, and serve with rice.

Recipe Credit: Saveur Magazine

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