Monday, February 7, 2011

Recipe: Slow-baked beans with kale (my version)

My last post pointed you to the recipe printed in the New York Times for Slow-baked Beans with Kale. I made it yesterday, tweaked it a little for what I had in the house, and the dish was delicious. Even my husband, who grew up with canned baked beans each Friday night (and also grew up to hate baked beans), enjoyed this recipe. It was a risk for me to make baked beans, but I felt confident that this dish would not be the same as what he knew and still intensely dislikes (which is really rather amazing as my husband LOVES food!).

Here is my recipe and some photos:


1 bunch kale, stemmed and washed in two changes of water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1/2 yellow sweet pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 # white beans, picked over and soaked for at least four hours and drained (I soak over-night and then do a quick boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes with a piece of Kombu before draining to help reduce the gas forming propensity of beans)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste, dissolved in 1 cup water
4 cups additional water
1-2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup (I used grade D maple syrup from a local source)
Salt (scant or to taste) and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the kale. Blanch for two minutes, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain, squeeze out water and cut into ribbons. Set aside. (See my photos of this process below - I will try skipping this step next time.)
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large ovenproof casserole. Add the onion, carrots pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the dissolved tomato paste, and bring to a simmer.
3. Add the drained beans, the remaining water, maple syrup, salt and pepper.. Stir in the kale, bring to a simmer, cover and place in the oven. Bake 3-5 hours until the beans are tender and creamy. Taste and adjust salt and/or sweetner.

Note: Make sure that the beans come to a simmer on top of the stove before placing them in the oven. Do not use old beans, which will not soften no matter how long you simmer them. If the beans do not soften in the oven after a couple of hours, raise the heat to 300 degrees. If you live at a high altitude, raise the oven temperature and let the the beans bake for longer.

Yield: Serves 10-12.

(Photo: Vegetables and traditional bean pot)

 (Photo: Blanching the kale - first I removed the large tough stems and chopped the kale leaves - then blanched the chopped kale in boiling water inside a colander in the smaller pan in front on the left, transferring to the colander in the stockpot on the right containing ice water, then draining the cooled kale and transferring to the large stock pot in the back on the left. Repeat, repeat. This back and forth was way too cumbersome, so next time I will blanch whole leaves first in a big pot, transfer to a sink filled with ice water, and then chop (like the original directions said to do). However, I may even skip this step entirely next time to see if it makes any difference in final taste and texture of the kale.)

 (Photo: Kale, beans, etc in the large stock pot heating up before transferring to an oven-proof baking container.)

(Photo:  Beans etc transferred to the bean pot. This whole recipe needed a second dish, too. Cutting the recipe in half would fill this bean pot just perfectly.)

 (Both pots almost ready to go into the oven.)

 (Photo: Both pots in the oven, complete with their lids. Although I intuitively thought I should cover these pots, I had to read the original recipe 3 times to see where it said to cover them!)

These are great hot, warm, room temperature, and also cold! I have already sampled them at each stage, including right out of the refrigerator for breakfast this morning. :-)

Another great way to use a bunch of kale! Enjoy. :-)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, including Super Bowl Sunday!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Kateri said...

This looks really good, not at all the traditional baked bean recipe, which I don't care for much. Will have to try it one of these day.

tracy said...

very excited to stumble across your blog! love it! i just featured a kale recipe (and your blog) at

cheers from north carolina

Aileen, Kitchen Kwento said...

I adore kale, and I was happy to find this blog to fuel even more ideas for this versatile vegetable. You have a new fan in the Bay Area! - Aileen,

Diana Dyer said...

Thanks to all who have stopped by, both long-time readers like Kateri and first-timers like Tracy and Aileen. I just love reading other creative blogs (for instance I just learned what the word 'wento' means - thanks Aileen!) and will be sure to stop in now and then to enjoy yours. Kateri's blog at is one of my favorites!

Jeannette said...

Hello...I am looking forward to reading your blog. Recently two different competent cooks on different occasions freaked out at my sauteeing onions and such for soups etc in olive oil. One of them suggested that I use grape seed oil instead as an oil that is safer under heat and the other told me to use water and then add the fresh oil just before serving.
I wonder what you have studied about this?. I have leaned into food and herb and health consciousness all my many days... have also survived CA with some treatment consequences and know that I need to
always be refining and improving my choices and methods. It was fun to find someone else who features kale in their blog. I have written about it too. best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I am a student at Kansas City Kansas Community College and am in a nutrition class. I am doing a presentation on kale for the class and was wondering if you had any information of facts about kale that you could share with me. Anything would be very helpful.

Thank you!

Diana Dyer said...

Ms Len,
Thanks for stopping by my kale blog. I don't know precisely what type of information you are looking for, but I am guessing you will find many helpful tidbits on this blog. For starters, try looking under research tags.

Pam said...

I just found your blog while internet searching, how to grow kale, and am intrigued. I moved to Central PA a year ago and discovered kale at my local Farmer's Market. It's my new fave! I just started exploring your blog but wanted to share this delicious recipe that I've been making and now my friends are also making.
You may have already seen this, but it's a new favorite in my house and oh so easy.
God bless you in your journey!