The lifestyle indulgences I go in for might seem quirky, I admit. In some ways I’m frugal: our cars are old, I usually upgrade my wardrobe only when actual holes in my clothing require it, and we’ll probably never update our very-1980’s kitchen. But other times, I splurge indiscriminately: finding myself in a new grocery bulk section last week, I bought a bag of every unfamiliar dried bean there.
Yellow beans! Pink beans! Speckled beans! Tiny beans! And more, many more. I have only one source to blame for this new obsession: Rancho Gordo. A local shop carries their beans, which have opened my eyes to the wide world beyond black and white beans, familiar pintos and chickpeas. I have fallen down the dried-bean rabbit hole and I like it here.That charmer pictured above is Rancho Gordo’s Ojo de Cabra, a meaty beauty of a bean so succulent that I kept plucking them from the bubbling pot despite the peril to my fingertips. Like all beans, they’re even better the next day, and that’s when I suggest that you make this pasta.
This dish is fine and dandy with drained canned white beans (maybe add a little chopped fresh rosemary in that case), but it is even better as a showcase for an excellent bean if you cook it yourself and use a few scoops of the bean broth to finish cooking your pasta.
Do you have a favorite bean, or an unusual recommendation that I should seek out? Please tell me!Pesto Pasta With Beans and Greens: Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. While you’re waiting, wash a big bunch of chard. Chop the leaves into wide ribbons and slice the stems thinly. In a wide pan, saute a sliced onion with the chard stems (set the leaves aside for later) over medium-high heat with a pinch of salt until the onion is golden. Add a clove or two of chopped garlic and stir for another minute. Ladle in a few good scoops of cooked beans along with their cooking liquid (if you’re using canned beans, steal some water from the pasta pot instead).
Meanwhile, when the water boils, cook half a pound of your pasta of choice until just shy of al dente, then add the chopped chard leaves for the last minute of cooking. Drain the pasta and greens and add them to the pan of onions and beans. Add more bean broth if needed to moisten the pasta. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
Variation: Use kale instead of chard (leave the kale stems out–has anyone tried Tamar Adler’s kale stem pesto yet?) and stir in a cup or two of chunky tomato sauce at the very end to warm it through. Omit the pesto.