Giant Chipotle White Beans Recipe

A riff on Laurence Jossel's fantastic NOPA beans - plump, creamy beans baked in a bright, chunky chipotle tomato sauce, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, plenty of oozy queso fresco, and an emerald drizzle of cilantro pesto.

Giant Chipotle White Beans

Food & Wine magazine's Emily Kaiser wrote an article in November that highlighted two of my favorite things: Steve Sando's Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, and a bean recipe from NOPA - a restaurant just a short walk from my front door. The article was published in November, and I've cooked Laurence Jossel's beans four times since then. I even brought them to meet my family on Thanksgiving. Imagine plump, creamy beans baked in a bright, chunky tomato sauce, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, plenty of tangy crumbled feta, and an emerald drizzle of oregano-parsley pesto. I love his original recipe, but the last time through I decided to add a few of my own twists. I did a subtly smoky chipotle-version of the tomato sauce, a cilantro drizzle, kale, whole grain bread crumbs, and queso fresco cheese (recipe below).

Giant Chipotle White Beans

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can do many of the components ahead of time - you can boil the dried beans, make the pesto, make the tomato sauce, and toast the breadcrumbs. None of which are exceedingly difficult. You can then assemble the components in a flash, and into the oven it goes. Perfect for when you have friends over.

Giant Chipotle White Beans

I'm sure someone is going to ask, so I'll answer ahead of time - what about substituting canned beans? In my experience canned beans lack the structure that beans cooked from scratch have. The canned guys tend to break and go to mush more quickly. In this recipe they will likely work, but won't hold up as well.

Give these beans a try (either version), they are outrageously good.

Related links: Richie is a linecook at NOPA, NOPA food blog, NOPA wine blog.

weeknight express

Sign up for my weekly-ish, ad-free newsletter, with recipes, inspirations, what I’m reading / watching / shopping.
(You’ll get a link for a free PDF e-book with 10 recipes)

weeknight express

Giant Chipotle White Beans Recipe

In the lead photo you can see that I used queso fresco cheese, it is creamy, and oozy melty - totally different results vs. feta, which stays relatively structured and is quite a bit more salty. You can use either or a combination of the two.

1 pound of large, dried white beans (corona, giant limas, gigantes, or any giant white beans you can find), rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight - or up to 24 hours.

Chipotle-tomato sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 big pinches of red pepper flakes
2 pinches of salt
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers

Cilantro Pesto:
1 medium clove of garlic
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
big pinch of salt

2/3 cup kale or chard, washed, de-stemmed, and very finely chopped
1 cup queso fresco or feta cheese (see head notes)

1 1/2 cup whole-grain breadcrumbs, toasted in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil

To prepare the beans. Drain and rinse the beans after their overnight soak. Then place them in a large saucepan and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are cooked through and just tender. This can take anywhere from an hour to two hours (potentially more) depending on your beans, but do your best to avoid overcooking. Remove from heat, salt the beans (still in bean broth) with about a tablespoon of salt - enough that the bean liquid is tasty but on the salty side. Let the beans sit like this for ten minutes or so before draining and setting the beans aside.

In the meantime, make your tomato sauce. Place the 2 tablespoons olive oil, red pepper flakes, couple pinches of salt, and chopped garlic into a cold medium saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant - you don't want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and the fresh oregano and heat to a gentle simmer, this takes just a couple minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the adobo sauce - carefully take a taste (you don't want to burn your tongue)...If the sauce needs more salt add it now, more chipotle flavor? Go for it. Set aside.

Make the cilantro pesto by combining the clove of garlic and cilantro in a food processor. Pulse while you drizzle in the olive oil - alternately, you could do this by hand. Season with a bit of salt and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. In a 9x13 baking pan (or large oven-proof casserole/dutch oven) toss the beans with the tomato sauce and the kale. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in the top-third of the oven for roughly twenty-five (if you're using queso fresco) to forty minutes, I look for the cheese to start browning and any visible beans to get a bit crusty. Remove from oven and let sit for about ten minutes. Top the beans with the breadcrumbs and just before serving drizzle with the cilantro pesto.

Serves about 6.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Apologies, comments are closed.


If your site has taught me anything, it's how to prepare beans and greens in new and interesting ways. (You've also cured me of my fear of baking; imagine that!) This looks totally delicious. I was all set to make a quiche tonight (my first!) but this looks even better.

Those sound amazing...and good to know that you can probably use canned beans in a pinch.

I find your comments about canned versus homesoaked/cooked beans to be interesting. In my experience, the exact opposite is true---my homegrown and homecooked beans tend to get mushier faster, so I have to watch them closely when cooking them. It may have a lot to do with the variety (there are oodles of varieties out there)---the best cooking bean I have found is the little red beans that my father smuggled back into the country after visiting us in Nicaragua about 8 years ago---those beans remain mostly firm throughout the cooking process. The white/yellow beans I grew this past year were, upon cooking, instant mush. All that said, I prefer my own cooked beans, if not for their perfect texture, than for the ease of conscience that I have, knowing that they came from my back yard, (mostly) no chemicals, petroleum, or plastics involved. -JJ

Wow, a.... bean bake? This looks awesome, especially the chipolte tomato sauce- I think that might find it's way into a few other reciopes, for me :)

does anyone know if adobe sauce/chipotle chillis are available in the uk? if not would smoked paprika/harrisa be a good flavour substitute? This looks really nice, and I might even be able to persuade my veg-hating husband to eat it, with a little chorizo added!


What a great bean recipe! We've been eating a lot of beans lately... will have to add this to the list to try. :) Thanks for sharing!

This recipe just sounds perfect to me - I love a tangy tomato sauce and dishes with lots of textures to them. And this one ticks so many boxes in terms of nutrition (legumes, vegetables, dairy, carbohydrate, protein). I've generally used canned beans in the past but I thought I'd get back into cooking them again in my new slow cooker. If any of Heidi's lovely readers have tips for how best to cook beans in the slow cooker they'd be much appreciated!

Those of us out on the cutting edge have all moved away from chipotle. It IS a big overdone. Time to move on folks.

This sounds really good! I've never actually cooked with these beans so maybe I'll try it :)

sounds delicious!! we have a thing for rancho gordo beans as well - exploring all the different varieties i've never heard of and looking thru their awesome cookbook. saw the article in food & wine but will definitely be trying your version of this recipe soon. thanks!

There is nothing not to love here. Parmesan, cruncy bread crumbs, pesto, a bit of kick. Oh yeah and those gorgeous beans (I happen to have a soft spot for heirloom beans... .) It would be perfect with my current favorite green, Giant Fordhook chard. Yum!

Wow, this dish looks absolutely delicious and warming. Perfect for a winter dinner. I'm a big fan of feta, so I think I'd go with that. Or maybe goat cheese!

Wow, this dish looks absolutely delicious and warming. Perfect for a winter dinner. I'm a big fan of feta, so I think I'd go with that. Or maybe goat cheese!

Anything involving white beans (my current fave) as a casserole I can throw in the oven - heaven. Can't wait to try this bad boy with a bit of a northeastern spin - I'm thinking molasses and paprika in place of the adobo. And I actually just planted some cilantro for the purpose of winter pesto - how fortuitous!

I absolutely love your site. It's my first time posting after having learned about 101cookbooks over the last month or so (and purchasing your new-ish book.) So far, I've been thrilled with the recipes. This one looks great. I enthusiastically agree about 'fresh' dried beans and Rancho Gordo beans rock my world! Thanks for your exciting approach to fresh and healthy cooking and eating!


I can't wait to play with this recipe! I have a number of wonderful chiles and chile powders from the Santa Cruz Chile and Spice company here in AZ, and I've been wanting to see how some of the smoky ones will sauce up as a substitute for canned chipotles in adobo. Plus, cilantro has finally taken off in my garden, so all is good there. By the way, I love that you love chipotle. ;) It makes my life ever-so-much-more delicious.

Was thinking of ordering some Rancho Gordo beans today. Have never ordered before, but it's on my list of things to try. This sounds like a perfect way to use up what's left of the 8 lb wheel of queso fresco in my freezer that my friend brought back from Mexico.

Comments are closed.

Apologies, comments are closed.

More Recipes

Popular Ingredients