BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Edible Heirlooms

36 Comments

You know those weirdos who get all excited about the simplest foods? Those people you see in the produce section, lunging for the first and most perfect pumpkin of the season? The shoppers playing bumper carts as they race down aisles, desperate to get the freshest, greenest head of kale? Yeah, I’m outing myself here: I’m one of them. Though the term “foodie” holds little meaning to me, I would gladly take the title of “food lover.” Spying a deal on favorite produce can make my day, and I have been known to literally jump up and down in the middle of a store upon finding a much sought-after edible.

Such was the scene in the early summer, when a brand new Whole Foods opened up practically down the street from me. Combing through the expansive bulk bin section first thing on opening day, a fascinating new selection of dry goods were right at my finger tips. Things I had only read about, like kaniwa, suddenly were within my reach. Right at the end of the line, as if saving the best for last, it was there that I came upon the 10 heirloom bean mix. Such a riot of colors and shapes seemed impossible to come from merely beans, those much maligned legumes that typically only came in varying shades of brown. Positively enchanted, I loaded up a bag full of the otherworldly bean blend, the smooth, dry skins clattering together gently as they slid off the metal scoop.

And then, they sat. Not quite forgotten, but with no clear destination, my pound-plus of gorgeous flageolet, orca, canary beans, and so forth remained squirreled away in the pantry, out of sight and definitely out of mind. Who wants to spend half a day bent over a boiling pot of beans in the heat of summer anyway?

Not a paltry handful of months could dampen my enthusiasm; Finally the heat broke, and those lovely legumes sprung back into my sights and finally onto my menu.

An ideal meal for a chilly fall or winter day, any sort of stew is perfect to warm the belly and sustain a difficult day of work. Or, fuel the mind for a long day of writing. Or simply provide comfort and nourishment for the worn and tired soul. Though the cooking process did undeniable dampen my rainbow of heirlooms, I’d gladly take the trade off of delicious, earthy flavor and creamy textures instead. Any sort of beans will do in this simple mixture, so don’t feel compelled to go out in search of a rare bean blend- Unless that sounds like your idea of fun, too.

Garlicky Greens and Beans Stew

1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Medium Red Onion, Diced
1 Whole Bulb Garlic (12 – 15 Cloves), Peeled and Finely Minced
8 Ounces Mushrooms, Roughly Chopped
1 Bay Leaf
1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Corriander
1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tablespoons Tamari or Soy Sauce
1 Cup Mushroom or Vegetable Broth
1 28-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Large Sweet Potato, Peeled and Diced
3 Cups Cooked Beans (Heirloom 10 Bean Mix)
1 Bunch Kale (About 1 Pound), Cleaned, De-stemmed, and Chopped
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Set a large stock pot over medium heat, and start by sauteing the chopped onion in the oil. Once softened and somewhat translucent, add in the minced garlic, and cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, until the onion just begins to brown around the edges. Introduce the mushrooms at that point, and allow them 3 – 5 more minutes to cook down slightly and become aromatic.

Add in the spices and seasonings, along with your broth of choice, tomatoes, and sweet potato. Stir well, bring to a boil, and cover the pot. Turn the heat down so that the stew is at a lively simmer, and let cook for 15 minutes. After that time has elapsed, add in the cooked beans, and continue simmering, uncovered, for another 15 minutes. Test the potatoes to make sure that they’re fork tender, and if they are, turn off the heat. Mix in the kale a few handfuls at a time, using the residual heat to wilt it down. Mix in the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with a chunk of crusty bread or over a bowlful of rice.

Serves 6 – 8

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

36 thoughts on “Edible Heirlooms

  1. Your description of the first day you went to your new Whole Foods was very familiar – I was like a kid in a candy store. It was funny actually shopping, while so many people were there to just “window-shop” – I was giddy about the huge bins of Nutritional Yeast, bags of Bob’s Mill goodies I could never find before, and container after container of unknown dry bulk goods. I have not noticed the beautiful bean blend you have above – I’ll have to look for that this week. The recipe sounds delicious!

    • I’ve been in a lot of Whole Foods, and I had never seen this blend before. If you can’t find the heirloom beans, I’m pretty sure that Bob’s Red Mill also makes a 16-bean mix, or something like that, which would work nicely as well.

  2. Hannah: Your opening comments about people not empathising with your foodly passions really resonated with me. Yesterday in the market I spotted the first of this season’s “epine” artichokes and I felt a jolt go through me. My friends wandered off because I was making a small scene. Thank goodness for those friends who get us. They’re the ones who get my dinner invites.

  3. These photos are incredible! Love them. Also, I’m jealous a Whole Foods moved right down the road from you. That’s my dream…although, it’s probably a good thing that hasn’t happened to me yet because I’d spend way too much $$ there. Beans and greens is always a great dish!

  4. What a find indeed! The colors of the different beans is so beautiful! I can’t wait to make that stew. It’s just starting to get cooler in the nights again so the warm foods will be made in our household again. My heirloom tomatoes are going crazy right now…so excited.

  5. Those beans all mixed in a jar is so pretty. It would make a pretty decoration. That stew looks divine.

  6. Beautiful bean stew! It’s going to be perfect this weekend, with the crazy east coast cold front headed our way. Maybe I’ll pick up some fresh October beans at market to recreate it!

  7. The photos say it all… Very healthy, protein loaded dish. But I definitely won’t use broth.

  8. Oh how pretty all those beans are! I like beans a lot,and just a few days ago had,for the first time,fresh black eyed beans,but I like them dry as well. Your bean stew sounds really good:)

  9. I started growing my own heirloom beans this year, and I had so much fun peeling them open and seeing all the unusual, bright colours. I only had about 5 different types, so my jar full isn’t quite as colourful as the one you’ve shown, but it’s a wonderful break from the usual brown and black beans from the grocery store. My favourite was one called a “True Red Cranberry Bean.”

    And now I have a jar full of beautiful beans that I want to do something special with…I think I’ll try this recipe. Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Oh just what I was looking for!!! I am going to get beans tomorrow and make this Sunday. I have some fresh pumpkin on hand and will switch out the sweet potato for the pumpkin. And I bought a bunch of lacinto kale last week at the farmers market and got like 3 pounds for $2. So I still have some left over. And I love heirloom bean blends. Thank you!!!

  11. What a great looking jar of beans! This dish looks perfect for fall.

  12. Love the assortment — they look beautiful and delicious!

  13. I suppose I need to go visit you cause we do NOT have this heirloom mix at my whole foods! Super tragic. Cause this stew looks like autumnal heaven.

  14. You’re my favourite kind of weirdo. True story.

    P.S. When is your cookbook tour bringing you to Australia? WHEN?

  15. The nearest Whole Foods to me is an 1:30 away. You are so lucky! I must find some heirloom beans – that dish looks so good. Perfect for fall evenings!

  16. It looks delicious! And the beans seem so wonderful colorful :)

  17. Love the colors in those beans, we always use a variety of beans for chili or bean soup, it’s just better that way. Great photos!

  18. Hannah, I’m a big bean lover too! Maybe we’ve talked about this before…hmm.

    I hoard my bags of Rancho Gordo beans and bring them out for a special occassion, the way most people bring out steaks for a special occassion. hehe! :)

  19. Looks promising, bet the stew was delicious. Your post really got me craving for some beans :) nice blog

  20. I just got a sample pack of 16 bean mix.. of course i throwing their spice pack out.. this stew looks much more enticing! perfect colors and spices for fall!

  21. I’m not a huge bean fan, honestly, but I WILL race you too that greenest head of kale!

  22. I’m such a noobie when it comes to being a “food lover”. I just really appreciate and enjoy it and I feel that food is the best way to experience a culture. My friends respect and understand it, but they think I exaggerate a bit sometimes. It’s nice to know that there are people out there who love food and minute details once and awhile. And don’t you love Whole Foods? One opened up recently near me too and my entire family loves it. Here’s to Whole Foods!

  23. Hannah, I’d get giddy about those beans too! I love the colors, especially those canary beans – did they lose some color through cooking? I’m guessing so, much like other beans fade slightly, but still worth buying to enjoy the beauty before cooking.

  24. Alright, I’ll admit it, I’m a weirdo too. Beautiful heirloom beans! The dish came out pretty colorful too. Yay for having a new Whole Foods so close by. :-)

  25. What a great idea. I have a bunch of beans like that sitting around here that I’ve been trying to decide what to do with. I can’t wait to try it.

  26. This was delicious! I couldn’t find the beans described, so I bought a pack of 16 bean soup, and followed this recipe instead. I will be making this often!

  27. Wow!! This looks so tasty! It is raining today. This looks like a perfect dish for tonight’s dinner!! Thanks Hannah!! xo

  28. having just hopped onto the dried bean bandwagon, this recipe is right up my alley! yum!

  29. This looks delicious. I will be trying this for sure.

  30. That looks fabulous!

  31. Ooo I need to go see if my Whole Foods has that 10 mix of heirloom beans!

  32. I love your dry bean display presentation! I have a friend that recently went vegan a few months ago, and I’ve been meaning to give her recipes of inexpensive, quick and easy vegan foods for her to make. Your little spice jars would be a cute way to give dry beans, grains, spices etc. as a gift, and attach a recipe card on the outside. Where did you buy your spice jars?

    • I stumbled upon those jars at Good Will ages ago- I got lucky and found a pristine, if a bit dusty, set of three. They’re all over the place though, at various second hand stores, and also some craft supply stores. I’ve also seen some larger ones meant for kitchen storage in places like Bed, Bath, and Beyond, so you could probably also try Target or any other general home goods store.

  33. Pingback: What I Ate Wednesday #9 « Farmers Market Vegan

  34. It is great to find beans at the local farmer’s market. There are some easier to digest than others however we are so blessed to have farmer’s continuing to harvest. Thanks for this great recipe.

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