Giant Chipotle Baked Beans

A riff on Laurence Jossel's famous 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 Baked Beans

Food & Wine magazine's Emily Kaiser wrote an article in November of 2008 that highlighted two of my favorite things: Steve Sando's Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, and a bean recipe from NOPA - a restaurant that was just a short walk from my front door for many years. I've enjoyed Laurence Jossel's beans countless times, both at the restaurant and by making them in my own kitchen. I even brought them to Thanksgiving one year. 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 I made them 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. I'm including the recipe down below.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Make Ahead Magic

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.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Can I Use Canned Beans?

I'm sure someone is going to ask, so I'll answer ahead of time - how about substituting canned beans? Ok - here's the deal - in my experience canned beans lack the structure that beans cooked from scratch have. The canned guys tend to break and go to mush far more quickly. In this recipe they will likely work, but won't hold up as well. The flavor will be fine, but the texture will be a different beast. If you go this route, don't skimp on the bread crumbs.
Chipotle Baked Beans
Give these beans a try (either version!), they are outrageously good. The shot above is the recipe in progress, before baking. And the photo below is the beans prior to soaking. They're huge. You're looking for beans the size of your thumb prior to soaking for this recipe. I make some suggestion for different types in the recipe below.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Also! There are no shortage of bean recipes on this site. The ones I make most often are these homemade refried beans, and if you've never cooked beans from dried, no problem! This post will show you how to cook beans that are simple and amazing.

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Giant Chipotle Baked Beans

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In the lead photo you can see I used queso fresco cheese, it is creamy, and oozy melty. It lends 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

Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
Prepare the beans:
  1. 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.

Make the tomato sauce:
  1. In the meantime, 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:
  1. 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.
Let's bake!
  1. 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.
Notes

Serves about 6.

Serves
6
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
 
 
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Comments

Sounds great!

Jennifer

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!

Susy

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

christy

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.

Erin

Match made in heaven...love white beans, love chipotles! Now on to a (sort-of)related matter...what to do with about 3/4 lb. slightly shriveled red cherry peppers that I rescued from the bargain bin at the store (they're a little zesty with the seeds out, pretty hot for me with all the seeds in)? I'd love to hear some suggestions...I've already made a bunch of harissa, and would love to make some traditional "mexi" hot sauce if I knew how long it would last.

All for Veggies

Oh. My. God!!! I think I just found my new favorite dish to try. LOVE the use of queso fresco here too.

Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well

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

Fit Bottomed Girls

WOW! This looks and sounds amazing! I wonder whether it'll be okay without the cheese or replaced with rice cheese... HS: Hi Quinny, see answer below.

Can't wait to try this - sounds delicious!

I'm looking forward to trying this, as well as the lentil soup. I swear this website alone makes me look like I know what I'm doing in front of my girlfriend. HS: :) Glad to hear it JD.

JD

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

Mama JJ

Another dish I'm looking forward to trying! I recently found this site in December and my daughter & I are enjoying the adventure of the food here!! Daughter will be heading off to college this fall and hopefully living in a scholarship hall where the 50 women are divided into 7 kitchens and then responsible for their own meals...planning, shopping & preparing. (hoping to be part of a vegetarian kitchen) I've begun gathering dishes that are easy, quick, healthy & affordable. Helping her to realize that not only can she cook for a group of 7 women once a week, but she can enjoy it. This dish quite possibly will be part of that "collection". Thank you so much for this site!! Loving it! PamelaB HS: thanks for the nice note Pamela. Good luck to your daughter!

PamelaB

I enjoy your blog but I have noticed that almost everything you post looks identical to the recipe before. The images just all blur together. Perhaps it's time to branch out and experiment, add different colors other than green and beige-y. HS: ok, I'll work on it.

Lilybloom

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 :)

Kellie Hill

You can now get Tabasco chipotle sauce in the UK (try Waitrose or bigger branches of Sainsbury), and Discovery make a chipotle paste (bigger branches of Asda/Tesco). I haven't found canned chipotles in adobo, but both of these are reasonable substitutes.

liz

Do you think this would freeze well? Perhaps freeze it before baking?

Annie

It breaks my heart that Rancho Gordo won't deliver to Canada

Petra

I'm going to try this today... well... tomorrow... but I'm going to start my beans today! I'm also planning on throwing a layer of veggie chorizo in there somewhere... there's a brand called Soyrizo by Frieda's that is so wonderful! I keep piles of it in the freezer for fun spicy dishes like this! Can't wait!

Joe

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!

Jenny

I just found your site, bought your book on S.N.F and started reading last night. I want to convert my family and this seems like a perfect starter. Anything with tomato sauce, cheese, bread crumbs & beans they will eat! Thanks for sharing! It will be on the menu for this weekend

Ann

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