We love beans. They’re really good for you, of course, since they’re loaded with protein and fiber. Eating more beans helps you eat less meat, good for both you and the planet. We love beans because they can be delicious. But you’ve got to start with the right beans. As usual, Wellspent Market founder Jim Dixon has got some opinions about the right beans. Here’s what he thinks.
Anthony and Carol Boutard taught me the lesson of good beans. To make a delicious pot, start with the right beans. My gateway bean was the Ayers Creek Borlotto Gaston, a cranberry bean the Boutards developed from Italian seeds on their Willamette Valley farm near Gaston. Fat and creamy with a deep, rich flavor, these are the beans that drove me from the bulk bins in search of better beans.
But Ayers Creek’s small-scale production, along with unrelenting demand from Portland’s best restaurants, meant I couldn’t always get their beans. I discovered Haricot Farms, part of the no-till, sustainable farming movement in central Washington, and their Food Alliance certified beans. Fresher beans taste better, and these always come from the most recent harvest.
Rancho Gordo beans get a lot of attention, and rightly so since their beans are always delicious. But it’s founder Steve Sando’s approach that makes me think we were separated at birth. He loves beans for their own sake, always advocating cooking them simply with water and salt, then eating them plain so you can see just how good they taste. And like me, his favorite bean is the one he’s eating at the moment
Regular readers know my preferred bean cooking method: combine beans, water, olive oil, and salt in a covered pot, put it in a low oven, and cook until done. I adapted it from an old Tuscan recipe called fagiole al fiasco, and I make a pot of no-soak, beans in the oven every few days. But during the hot summer days when I can’t bear to heat up the kitchen, I’ll cook them long and slow on the stovetop. However you cook them, start with good beans. Here are a few of my favorites.
An old Tuscan variety, these get their name from their pale yellow color reminiscent of sulphur, zolfo in Italian. Despite their thin skins, The small beans stand up to long slow cooking, emerging intact but soft and buttery.
Similar to cranberry beans, pintos feature thick skins and a creamy interior. They’re used to make classic frijoles refritos as well Appalachian-style soup beans.
You can’t make red beans in New Orleans with any other bean, but these work just as well in chili or a classic three bean salad. Big, fat, and tender, red kidneys are popular in bean dishes from India, too.
Ceci in Italian, garbanzo in Spanish, delicious in any language, these chickpeas make creamy hummus, are perfect in salads, and taste great on their own with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
We’ve been working on this project for a few months and are beyond excited to finally announce the launch of Take-Home Dough and Sauce from Portland’s world-famous Scottie’s Pizza Parlor!
Known for his commitment to top notch ingredients, affordable slices and employee well-being, Brooklyn-born Scott Rivera spent time in some of Portland’s most revered kitchens (pizza and otherwise, including Ava Gene’s, Babydoll, and Handsome) before launching his namesake pie hole on SE Division in 2015. Scottie himself will be on hand making pies and slinging slices—as well as offering tips and tricks to achieve the perfect home bake—and our pals from Mill A Cider Co will be providing refreshments to wash it all down. It’s all happening on Tuesday, October 12th from 5pm-7pm in the Wellspent Parking Lot. See you there!!