Heirloom Bean and Mushroom “Carnitas” Casserole
A favorite Rancho Gordo heirloom bean casserole recipe. The smell of garlic and herbs baking alongside the beans, simmering tomatoes, and mushrooms will bring neighbors in off the sidewalk.
What you see here is an excellent, hearty, winter-spirited casserole. It’s simple to pull together, and once in the oven the smell of garlic and herbs baking alongside the heirloom beans, simmering tomatoes, and golden mushrooms will bring neighbors in off the sidewalk. You should make it a.s.a.p!
I found the recipe deep in back of Rancho Gordo Vegetarian Kitchen cookbook - (Rancho Gordo forever around here). The technique for cooking the mushrooms is part of what caught my attention. You cook the mushrooms in quite a bit of liquid and then allow them to cook in the residual fat (olive oil) after the liquid evaporates. The technique is like carnitas, the classic Mexican pork dish. Hence the recipe title. But, of course, unlike the traditional preparation, cooking this with mushrooms makes it a vegetarian casserole.
Choosing the Right Beans
The recipe falls into the Dark & Hearty Beans chapter of the book, and Eye of the Goat beans, or other brown beans are what's recommended. That said, many, many types of beans could work here. I went a bit rogue and used some beautiful Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Beans. They're creamy, melty, and mild. They took on the bubbling casserole juices beautifully. I also love the way those beans in particular hold their markings. Beyond those suggestions, I imagine using any creamy white bean would be nice here too - for example, the Alubia Blanca, or Marcella. And, if you only have canned beans on hand - it's ok! Drain them, rinse them, use them!
Cooking the Mushrooms
I just wanted to leave a visual reference here. This is how the mushrooms looked (above) when I take them off the heat. And now that I'm looking, I could have even gone a bit longer. Do you see how there's nice browning on the edges? That's what you're after. Then, you add all the other ingredients to the same pan (below), give it all a good stir, add a bit of cheese and pop it in the oven. I’ve tweaked the original recipe a bit to allow you to go from stovetop to oven in one skillet (reflected below), and bumped the quantity up by half, because this casserole is popular and goes fast.
Here are a couple ways you might build on this idea!
- With Breadcrumbs: Toss 1 cup of chunky breadcrumbs with a glut of olive oil and sprinkle across the top of the bean mixture before baking.
- Breakfast Casserole: Make three divots in the bean-mushroom mixture prior to baking, crack an egg into each of the depressions & bake until eggs are set, and bean mixture is bubbling.
I included this recipe in my list of best bean recipes, so be sure to browse it if you're looking for more bean-centric inspiration! Also, a primer post on how to cook beans and a favorite Cinnamon Chipotle Slow-Cooked Coconut Beans.
Heirloom Bean & Mushroom “Carnitas” Casserole
As the recipe highlights, the mushrooms are a fantastic taco filling.
- 3 cups sliced button mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 3 cups cooked heirloom beans, drained
- 1+ cup canned whole peeled tomatoes chopped; plus 3/4 cup of juice from the canned tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 8 very small fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini)
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Start by making the Mushroom Carnitas. In an oven-proof skillet, place all of the Mushroom Carnitas ingredients - mushrooms, garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, and oregano - and add just enough water to not quite cover the mushrooms. Bring the liquid to a hard boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer; cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 15 minutes, stirring to avoid scorching. Watch carefully: Once evaporation starts, things happen quickly. The mushrooms will start to sauté in the residual oil. Keep stirring until the mushrooms are golden brown. Remove from heat.
Add the beans, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and stir well. Taste, and adjust the salt, if needed. Arrange the mozzarella on top of the mushroom-bean mixture and push them down into the liquid a bit.
Bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, but start checking in after 30 minutes. When finished, the liquid should be bubbling and reduced a bit, and the cheese starting to melt and turn golden a bit.
Adapted from the Heirloom Bean & Mushroom “Carnitas” Casserole recipe in The Rancho Gordo Vegetarian Kitchen: Everyday Cooking with Heirloom Beans, Vegetables, Greens, and Grains by Steve Sando & Julia Newberry.
Post Your Comment
Just made with RG cassoulet beans. Absolutely delicious. Used marjoram and a pinch of coriander for Mexican oregano. Only had shredded mozzarella so sprinkled on top and used Italian breadcrumbs over cheese. It’s a hit.
Woohoo! Thanks for the note Dayna!
Excited to try the recipe but I don’t have Mexican oregano. How important is it to the dish? Should I hold off until I can get it from the store? Thank you!
Hi Grace - go ahead and sub an alternate oregano if you have it!
Delicious Heidi! I made it tonight but with cannellini beans and kale, both of which were handy. Highly recommend to others. My only question would be - the amount of juice I used didn’t seem like it was enough liquid in the ‘bake’ part of it, so I added half a small tomato tin of water and it was more stew like when it came out (it did reduced somewhat though). Is it supposed to be a more ‘dry’ as opposed to ‘Wet’ like a stew? It was delicious either way!
Made this with black eyed peas for New Year’s Day — this was incredible, and so easy! I’ll be riffing this on repeat. Served it with polenta and a collard pesto (Bryant Terry’s, but doubled the collards and used a mix of peanuts, almonds, and walnuts). The combination of this, the creamy polenta, and the super-umami pesto was on point. The carnivores got thirds. Highly recommend.
LOVE THIS!! I've made this at least 4 times in 6 weeks and my family is crazy for it! I skip the cheese most of the time and finish it on the stove, and I always double the recipe. I vary the beans: small white, black eyed peas; and it's always so savory and delicious! I do cook it over high heat until the water evaporates then tweak it down. I will also be trying different mushrooms from the Asian grocery in the future. Thanks for this AWESOME RECIPE!!
I've made this several times & there is never any leftover! I actually had the Rancho Gordo yellow eye beans ( a large order of their beans was my Christmas present to myself!) Last time I threw in a thawed box of frozen spinach for some greens, delicious.
We have some leftover mushrooms that were baked in Vermouth, so we're doing a version of this recipe with those mushrooms, tinned artichokes, yellow eyed beans and Edam (!!!!! we can't get Mozzarella here as it comes in plastic :-( but Edam we can get wrapped in paper)! So, I'm sure the Edam will be interesting when it's done. We've already gobbled up a bit of the casserole before it went into the cooker (super YUMMY)! Thank you so much!
Thanks for the note Claire - it goes fast around here too!
I made this earlier this evening and it came out absolutely incredible. An instant favourite and the best mushrooms I have made in my entire life. I only had cannellini beans, but I imagine it's even better with heirloom! Could you please post the nutritional information? It doesn't show up when you try to expand it like it typically does.
Thanks for the heads up Morgan - should be updated now!
Made this last night and served it over soft polenta - loved it! I also have the cook book so thanks for pointing this one out. But . . . it took 50 mins to cook off the water in the mushroom step! I used an 8 inch diameter pot and the water was about 2/3 up the depth of the mushrooms. What a difference the wrong pot made!
Hi Barb - that definitely sounds excessive. Wondering if you had the burner dialed up enough? I also used an 8-inch pan. One other consideration might be gas vs. electric. I'm on gas. So yeah, dial it up if you're able to and perhaps scale back the water a bit knowing your set up might be slower. Love the polenta serving idea! -h
I made it with the Yellow Eyes and fresh oregano and thyme. I admit that it sounded more interesting than delicious when I decided to try it, but I trust you, Heidi, supremely, and once again you nailed it. The mozzarella somehow infuses the casserole with creaminess, and the carnitas are a zesty-mellow garlic delivery system. SO delicious.
Made this last night with half a pound of Rancho Gordo Eye of Goat. The beans maintained texture and shape with baking. Used the bean’s garlicky bean broth instead of water to “carnitatize” the mushroom. Loved the technique for getting maximum flavor from the mushrooms. Used a 15 oz can of tomatoes which met the recipe requirements perfectly. Next time, and there will be a next time, I will double everything, and include some lactinado kale and maybe some fresh carrots for a complete nutritional package, The little mozzarella balls baked up beautifully and provide a chewy treat as you eat. Delicious recipe, thanks Heidi. I have the Rancho Gordo cookbook you referenced but somehow had missed this recipe . So glad to add it to my recipes of good ways to enjoy great beans!
Thanks for the comment Anne! And I agree - more equals better with this recipe!
What size can of tomatoes?
Hi Beth, buy a can of 28-ounce tomatoes.
I love every kind of baked bean scenario! This looks perfect. Really dig the breadcrumb topping suggestion - just like cassoulet.
Heidi, I made the “carnitas” this afternoon and baked it tonight for dinner. It was sensational!! I used RG black beans instead of alubias or Marcellas, also added a guajillo chile to the crock pot for the beans. Instead of whole tomatoes I used Trader Joe’s fire roasted tomatoes with green chile for extra kick. If my avocados had been ripe, I would have added that with cilantro when serving. The unanimous response - feel free to make this again any time. Thanks so much for posting, I’m a huge fan of yours and Rancho Gordo!
Oh great! So glad you enjoyed it Greta. xx!
OMG I'm making this tonight! I don't have an oven that works so I'm going to have to just simmer it until it's done. I hope that works!! Looks incredibly delicious.... Thanks Heidi!!