A great way to eat beans

Giant Beans with Chipotle and Kale.  We have enjoyed this dish more than once in the kitchen of our friends Sarah and Alex.  Inspired by their versions of it, I've been meaning to make it, myself, for a while.  Today I found the time.

Let me first say that the recipe is from one of my favorite sources -- 101 Cookbooks blog.  I always seem to like the results of the food I make from Heidi Swanson's recipes.  This one does not disappoint either.

I made the dish according to the recipe, except that I started with Rancho Gordo's giant Christmas Lima beans.  The beans were large to begin with.  Then I soaked them overnight and they became giant.

Christmas Limas after their 24 hour soak.

Although I've always had the dish with white beans, I definitely liked the extra nuttiness that the Christmas Limas gave it.  Not sure I'd call it an improvement to the recipe (it's a pretty good recipe), but certainly not a detractor.  Plus, the substantial nature of the limas stands up well to the bold seasonings.  I would use them again.

My advice is to not skimp on the red pepper flakes or adobo in the tomato sauce.  I used just what the recipe called for -- plus one chipotle pepper -- and it was perfect.  Once the tomato sauce gets mixed with a full pound of beans, you really don't get much of it in every bite.  But what you do get has a nice heat to it.  A beer alongside keeps the fire under control, if you wish.

I used feta cheese this time.  Will try queso fresco next time.  I think I might like a melty cheese a bit better, but I must admit I like the saltiness of the feta.  I also baked the dish on convection bake and it was toasty and browned in about half the time.

After baking, but before the bread crumbs and pesto.

My pesto turned out to be a bit of a rough chop pesto -- my food processor didn't do such a great job on such a small quantity.  Tasted great, though.

The bread crumbs were fresh from a loaf of multi-grain bread I had in the fridge.  I over toasted them, but they tasted great nonetheless.

Ready to serve.
This dish takes a bit of time the first time you make it, if only to get familiar with what gets added when.  Next time I know I'll be faster. Planning ahead for the beans is totally worth it, by the way.  Dried beans that are cooked until just tender are so much better than anything canned.  Especially for this dish.  The last thing you want here is mushy beans.

We ate it alongside sourdough toasts and creamy cheese. . . not exactly Mexican, but, hey, how can you go wrong?


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