Yup, you guessed it - it's Bean Night again at the neighborhood kitchen. Yeehaw. This time we are tryin' out a new variety called Jacob's Cattle Beans. Aren't they pretty? Medium-sized white beans speckled with golden brown. At the farmers' market, these beans were described to us as being "velvety" and "creamy," but this didn't really tell me much because I think of most beans as being velvety and creamy. But after trying them for myself, let me tell you - they are velvety as ever. Silky, delicious, and filling.
This recipe would be good with all kinds of different beans. Just pick whatever looks good to you. The key to making good beans is to get really fresh beans. Dried beans that have been sitting in your pantry for a year may not turn out so great. Pick up some dried beans at your local farmers' market or do some online shopping at Rancho Gordo.
I know that the last thing this blog needs is another sentence that starts with "the great thing about beans is..." but I can't help it: the great thing about beans is that they are super low maintenance. They do take time, but they require very little attention. Put the beans in a pot, cover 'em with water, and simmer until tender. Throw in a chopped onion if you'd like. Add seasonings and EAT UP! Simple, wholesome, and tasty as I'll get out.
This dish is super simple. A stew of creamy beans, San Marzano tomatoes, and kale is spooned over some nutty farro and topped with a briny feta and lots of fresh oregano. Make this dish over the weekend and you'll have lots of leftovers to enjoy the rest of the week.
JACOB'S CATTLE BEANS WITH TOMATOES, FARRO, AND KALE
- 1 lb. dried beans such as Jacob’s Cattle Beans (cranberry beans, white beans, or pinto beans would also be good choices)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 28 oz. cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 3 cups kale, chopped
- 2 tbsp. dried oregano (try Rancho Gordo’s Oregano Indio if you can find it)
- 1 tbsp. chile powder
- 1 cup uncooked farro
- 2 ½ cups water plus more for cooking beans
- sea salt and pepper
- few handfuls of feta cheese (the goat feta that comes in a brine is especially delicious)
- few handfuls of fresh oregano, chopped
Place the beans, chopped onions, and bay leaves in a large heavy pot. Cover with water by two inches and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer beans until tender. Keep a kettle of hot water ready as the beans cook – the water level should stay above the beans so that they cook evenly.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot, bring the farro and 2.5 cups of water to a boil. Turn down the heat to a light simmer and cook until tender, about 40 minutes. If the pot starts looking a little dry before the farro is fully cooked, just add more hot water. When the farro is cooked (it should be al dente – tender but still with some bite in the center), drain the grains and set aside.
Taste the beans every once and a while to check on their progress – cooking times will vary. Our beans took about 1.5 hours, but if you choose to soak your beans beforehand, the cooking time will be shorter than that.
When the beans are ready, drain the pot but make sure to reserve the cooking liquid (the “bean liquor”), as you will want to add some if not all of it back to the beans.
Add the tomatoes, kale, chile powder, dried oregano, and a hefty amount of salt and pepper to the drained beans and onions. Break up the whole tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add a cup or two of the reserved bean liquid to the pot, depending on how brothy you want the stew. Bring everything to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer a few minutes to let the flavors meld (about 5-10 minutes should be good). Taste for seasonings and add more salt, pepper, chile powder, etc., if needed.
Place a few spoonfuls of farro into bowls. Ladle beans and tomatoes over the farro and top with a generous amount of crumbled feta and fresh oregano. Serve with a good crusty bread (as usual) and enjoy.