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Kidney Bean Bonanza

With cool weather upon us, it’s time for soups and stews.  What better
way to showcase the often-neglected kidney bean (it’s not just for the
salad bar) than to highlight some of our favorite dishes made with this crimson legume?

I’ll confess, I didn’t grow kidney beans this summer, but I will someday. In the meanwhile, we buy them dry and soak them overnight to make great meals.  We cook them for about 15 minutes in a pressure cooker and voila!  Perfect beans.







Cooked organic kidney beans, fresh from the pressure cooker

Over the past year, I’ve made a few new recipes that call for kidney beans.  Here’s one that calls for chard (also abundant in the garden these days) and plenty of fresh herbs:

Herbed Bean and Pasta Soup – this recipe was featured in a previous entry about dill: Dill you be mine?

It first appeared in Gourmet Magazine in November 2005:


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 lb dried linguine, broken into 2-inch pieces (1 cup)
  • 12 fresh chard leaves, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (8 cups)
  • 1 (15- to 19-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups freshly cooked)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallion greens

Accompaniments: sour cream; lemon wedges


Heat oil in a 4-quart wide heavy pot over moderately
high heat until hot but not smoking. Add onions and salt, then reduce
heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 15 to 20
minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup onion.

Add turmeric to onions in pot and cook, stirring, 1
minute. Add water and bring to a boil. Add linguine and boil, uncovered,
until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in chard and beans and simmer,
stirring occasionally, until chard is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove
from heat. Stir in herbs, scallion greens, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve soup topped with reserved onion.

Another recipe
that has wowed guests at parties is this one for Cajun Red Beans and Rice Salad.  Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s vegan.  Even the meat eaters at a New Orleans themed party raved about it!  Fair warning – it’s spicy!

Cajun Red Beans and Rice Salad – Bon Appetit, August 2004

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup long-grain rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large fresh thyme sprigs, divided, plus 1 tablespoon chopped
  • 1 15 1/2-ounce can red beans or kidney beans, drained, rinsed (can use 2 cups freshly cooked)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 5 teaspoons Cajun seasoning blend


Bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil in small saucepan. Stir
in rice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 thyme sprig; return to boil. Reduce
heat to low; cover and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender,
about 20 minutes.

Transfer rice to large bowl; remove thyme sprig. Cool 5 minutes.

Stir beans, bell pepper, and green onions into rice. Add
oil, vinegar, Cajun seasoning, and 1 tablespoon chopped thyme; mix
well. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with remaining
thyme sprig and serve.

If you don’t have Cajun seasoning, you can make your own simple version here: Cajun Seasoning Mix.  Some mixes call for more salt than others, so beware.  There are plenty of other versions out there too, so look around if this one doesn’t suit your needs.

Buon Appetito!

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