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Plantidote of the Day 2013-01-11

twig's picture

pinto beans

Phaseolus vulgaris

Pinto beans

Yes, beans are today's Plantidote, but forget the fart jokes. We're talking serious beans here, because as you probably already know, beans are good for you. They're also supposed to be easy to grow. But they're really easy to buy and this no time to be planting anything, so let's start with store-bought beans. Below is one of my favorite recipes. It's about as simple as they come, plus it's perfect for a winter day, and the leftovers are even better!

Bean, Rice, Corn and Cheese Casserole

Serves 6


2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup corn kernels (thawed, if frozen)
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 cups cooked pinto or black beans
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea or lite salt (reduced sodium)
freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the above ingredients except paprika, and mix thoroughly.

Pour the mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle paprika on top. Bake for 45 minutes. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, unless you're one of those weird people who do not like cilantro.

One more thing: I've read that supermarket beans are not nearly as tasty as those from specialty bean retailers, like these. Has anyone tried gourmet beans? And if so, are they worth it? Just wondering ....


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insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

Here, we have a store that sells mostly just beans.
Rancho Gordo.

The owner Steve Sando travels to Central America and seeks out regional beans and sets up co-ops in those villages to grow and ship these incredible beans to the US.

The different varieties have amazing individual flavors and textures and are very different from each other.
Beans are not "just beans".
They are heirloom varieties so you can buy a pound of beans and save 20 or 30 beans and use them to plant in your garden next summer to grow your own beans.
My recommendation is for a bean called
" Good Mother Stallard" beans . Rich and creamy. So good.
And thanks for recipe. I'm going to try it today.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

You must be reading my mind, insanely. A year or so ago, there was a cooking show on the radio and they talked about beans and the fact that the ones in the supermarket tend to be pretty crummy, as well as old (like 10 years old!). Rancho Gordo was the source they mentioned for good ones. I will order Good Mother Stollard today, and maybe a few other types to try. The more I read about them, the more impressed I am by their health benefits.

insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

Last year my sis and I took a cooking class from the Rancho Gordo owner , Steve. He talked soaking beans and when to add the salt and good details. When you order the beans be sure to request his postcard with all his instructions on it. He said to first cook and eat the beans without lots of broth or other flavorings, so as to taste the wonderfulness of the bean varieties, since they are quite different from each other.
After first tastings, then use them in recipes and with flavors added, but just the plain beans cooked his method is beyond delish!
I now grow a few varieties using beans I bought from him.

Also, fresh dried beans cook better and faster than 10 year old ones from supermarkets.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

Good Mother Stollard, large white lima beans, Rio Zape and Midnight black beans are coming, but I ordered before reading about the cooking postcard. It looks like they have some instructions at the website, though, so if they don't include one, I'll have to muddle through.

Interesting that they don't need much flavoring. Apparently, those of us who buy them at the supermarket have been missing out on a lot of beanie goodness. But not anymore!

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on


So, I've sent them an email asking them to please include the instructions in the order. (No biggie if they don't, really.)

Especially since the nice customer service dude explained to me that these beans are SO fresh, that it's really not that necessary to soak them. That was his opinion, anyway. He said a 'couple of hours' at the most, should do it. (None of the overnight business needed.)

We'll all have to compare notes later. :-)

Submitted by lambert on

I don't like green beans, and scarlet runners were pretty, but....

Are they heavy feeders? I've got a partly sunny area I'd like to expand into -- are there bean varieties for that?

Submitted by hipparchia on

they like full sun best:

Grow beans in full sun. Beans will grow in partial shade but the harvest will not be full. Beans prefer loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Beans prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Prepare planting beds in advance by working in plenty of aged compost. Avoid planting beans where soil nitrogen is high or where green manure crops have just grown; these beans will produce green foliage but few beans.blockquote>

insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

Beans are legumes and they actually improve the soil as they grow in it.
I do use compost when I plant and add some blood and bone meal to the soil whenever I plant anything. After you harvest the beans, chop the bean leaves and branches back into the dirt to rot/compost.

They do need at least 6 or more hours of direct sun. If you grew scarlet runner beans then you will do fine with any other beans in that area.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

road, but saw your post in time to place an order with Rancho Gordo.

Lifelong vegetarian here. Mr. Alexa pretty much for the past decade.

I'll put in a plug now for their 'phone customer service.' The rest remains to be seen, I suppose. For your info, insanely, since you're a customer of theirs, we ordered your recommendation, "Mother Stallard" and two other varieties--Midnight Black and Rio Zape.

Will let you guys know how they cook up, in a couple of weeks.

BTW, twig, will definitely try your casserole recipe. Casseroles are 'right down my alley,' since I'm not that much of a cook. LOL!

Thanks again, guys.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

when everyone's orders arrive and exchange cooking ideas. I don't eat meat, either, and haven't for decades, more than 40 years. Honestly, I think that's why I'm so healthy (knock wood) -- no chronic ailments, rarely sick, disturbing amount of energy. It seems that more and more people are going the veg route, too, which is great to see.

insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

Oh yes and a bean growing idea exchange.

Oh Lambert, beans can either be bush types ( leaners) or pole types ( climbers).
Both types like a fence to lean on or climb up. Vertical saves space and adds sun time.

The best part of growing dried beans is that you don't do anything after you plant except water when necessary. After the first frost, just wait until for them to dry up and pick all the dried up pods harvest. This is after all the summer tomatoes and zucchini are a memory.

caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

In addition to those already mentioned, I also recommend Yellow Eye beans and, when they have them, Runner Cannellini.

I have never had a Rancho Gordo bean that I did not like. And these are so fresh I never soak, and they still cook-up quickly enough to have for weekday dinners.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

I'm so glad we're having this discussion. Now I know there's no such thing as a bad bean from Rancho Gordo.

Here's a link to the original radio show with a Steve Sando (Rancho Gordo owner) interview: This is where I first learned that conventional beans are sometimes years old and that there's a better alternative.