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.

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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.


This sounds so hearty and warming. I imagine serving this over some homemade pasta or a nutritious grain would work so well. Thanks for the recipe, I love beans of all sorts.

Sounds wonderful. Looking around today for a good, comforting dish to bring to a friend who's just had a big loss. I think this will be perfect for her. Thanks for sharing it.

I have to try baking beans someday. I grew up eating beans, they are the foundation of Brazilan cooking, but we never bake them. Don' t they get mushy like that?We cook them on the stove instead. Those look so good, I'll give it a try.

Pure comfort food! Orgasm on a plate!

Susan D.

Another recipe that looks and sounds absolutely, positively delicious! Can't wait to give it a go. Awesome stuff, Heidi.

I have to try baking beans someday. I grew up eating beans, they are the foundation of Brazilan cooking, but we never bake them. Don' t they get mushy like that?We cook them on the stove instead. Those look so good, I'll give it a try.

I have made the Food & Wine version several times to great success too. The last time I served it with your garlicky greens and it was heaven. Perfect for a rainy winter night here in the NW! I'm excited to try your version. Thank you!

Mary B

WOW this looks so great! And I love lima beans :D

LOVE Steve Sando and his runner canellini beans are the best! White, plump, and just the right amount of texture. This recipe sounds like a nice alternative to posole...thanks!

Instead of Chipotle, how about Harissa? I love Rancho Gordo beans. Not only do I order boxes for myself, their beans make great gifts for foodie friends. As for cooking their beans, my favorite trick is to use my rice cooker. I cook most beans on my brown rice setting (or for a real low, slow cook use the "Gaba Brown" setting on my Japanese fuzzy logic cooker). I soak the beans the night before and get them settled in the morning on cook while I work. Rice cooker switches to warm setting and they're perfect by the time I get home. Great technique for an overworked foodie!

Lisa in San Diego

This looks incredible - I love beans and kale and am always looking out for new combos. And to Jim Lane - what an odd comment. Eat something because it tastes good, not because it's "cutting edge". (A silly concept anyway.)


Could you use regular-sized dried beans, like a great northern bean? That is all I have on hand at the moment, and I would love to try this recipe! Thanks!


Always looking for a new bean recipe. I must source out these beans, I live in Davis so it can't be too far...

i'm also interested in a substitute for chipotle and the adobo sauce as it's difficult to find in europe. someone above mentioned paprika and molasses... anyone with a north african or mediterranean alternative?


I'm a huge fan of white beans. And of course, only dried beans grace the kitchen here at Chiot's Run. No canned goodies of any kind in my pantry! I can't wait to try this recipe, I bet it will be fantastic with a crusty piece of bread!

Yum, sounds great. I can't wait to try it!

We love beans, but the ways I cook them have become a bit stagnent. I am very excited to give these a try, they sound delicious.

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