The earthy flavors of beans and mushrooms complement each other perfectly; use dried or fresh mushrooms, in virtually any combination—see the variations.
To emphasize the mushroom flavor, cook the beans in Mushroom Stock instead of water or double the amount of mushrooms. Use the oil instead of the butter to make this vegan.
Other beans you can use: cannellini, navy, gigantes, lima, pinto, kidney, appaloosa, anastazi, green or brown lentils, or soybeans.
- 8 ounces dried cranberry beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like
- 2 ounces dried porcini
- 1 medium onion, unpeeled
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or 4 tablespoons (½ stick) melted butter
1. Put the beans in a large pot with water to cover. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, soak the mushrooms in hot water to cover.
2. Cut a slit in the onion, insert the bay leaf, and put the onion in the pot. Turn the heat down to medium-low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally.
3. When the mushrooms are soft, drain them, reserving the soaking liquid. Squeeze them dry, trim away any hard spots, and chop them.
4. When the beans begin to soften (anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the bean), sprinkle with lots of salt and pepper and stir in the reserved mushroom-soaking liquid. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender but still intact (which will be about as much time as it took them to get tender). Add the mushrooms to the pot and continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Remove the onion. Taste and adjust the seasoning. About 3 minutes before serving, add the garlic, herbs, and olive oil and stir. Spoon the beans and mushrooms into individual bowls and serve immediately.
Black Beans with Dried Shiitakes.
Asian flavors work well with the black beans’ earthy flavor: Replace the cranberry with black beans and the porcini with dried shiitakes. Substitute 2 tablespoons chopped fermented black beans for the sage and dark sesame oil for the olive oil. Season with soy sauce instead of salt and proceed with the recipe.
Chickpeas with Cremini or Shiitakes.
Add a sprinkling of just about any spice or spice mixture (to make your own, ) if you like: Substitute chickpeas for the cranberry beans and use about 1 pound fresh cremini or shiitake mushrooms, chopped or quartered, instead of the porcini. Skip Step 2 and use Mushroom Stock to replace the mushroom-soaking liquid in Step 5. Replace the sage with cilantro or parsley.
White Beans with Shiitakes.
The shiitakes add complexity: Replace the cranberry beans with any white bean and the dried porcini with about 8 ounces fresh shiitakes, stems removed and reserved. In Step 2, soak the stems in the hot water or in hot Mushroom Stock for more mushroom flavor. Substitute rosemary or thyme for the sage.
Flageolets with Morels.
Dried or fresh morels are good here, as is a touch of cream added at the end: Use flageolets and morels instead of the cranberry beans and porcini. If you’re using fresh morels, use about 8 ounces, cleaned and halved, skip Step 2, and use Mushroom Stock to replace the mushroom-soaking liquid in Step 5. Replace the sage with tarragon or chervil and use the melted butter instead of the olive oil.
Fava Beans with Chanterelles.
Use any dried wild mushroom if chanterelles are not available, or shiitakes if that’s all you can find: Use fava or lima beans instead of cranberry beans and chanterelles instead of porcini. If you’re using fresh mushrooms, skip Step 2 and use Mushroom Stock to replace the mushroom-soaking liquid in Step 5. Replace the sage with chives or parsley and use the melted butter instead of the olive oil.
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.