Book review: Heirloom Beans: Great Recipes for Dips and Spreads, Soups and Stews, Salads and Salsas, and Much More from Rancho Gordo
I’m really loving cooking my own beans! And I’ve been learning more about wonderful heirloom beans. There’s a well-known highly regarded California heirloom bean company named Rancho Gordo. They sell their beans locally at farmer’s markets as well as through online orders.
It got me thinking about finding my own local stash of heirloom beans and I think I did find one! Baer’s Best Beans is one of the last heirloom bean growers in Massachusetts.
But anyway, I digress. This post is a review of the Rancho Gordo heirloom bean cookbook!
I think what really opened my eyes wider to how little Americans really know and understand about food was what he wrote in his Introduction. The author, Steve Sando opens with the line “Are these beans vegetarian?” and proceeds to tell the story of a woman who actually asked him that question (presumably at a Farmer’s Market). He thought he misunderstood her, that perhaps she meant to ask if the beans were organic. Nope, she wanted to know if they had “no meat, vegetarian?” – he had to assure her that yes, his heirloom beans were vegetarian.
Wow, can our country really truly be in that bad of shape, not knowing that dried beans in a bag were actually vegetarian!?? It’s very sad that so many people have no idea where real food really comes from!
But that’s what made me love this book even more! That story made me laugh and want to eat more beans!
Beans are a tremendous super food! High in protein, and loaded with fiber. And don’t forget the iron, vitamins B & A, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, and zinc. And cooking them yourself instead of buying a can is not that difficult!
To be truthful, I wasn’t always a bean lover! I always aspired to be a bean lover though, and I think that is what kept me working at it.
It’s definitely an acquired taste….if you start off gently and slowly, you can grow to enjoy and even love beans! My DH is living proof as well. He was dead-set against beans, and no, he doesn’t ADORE them now, but he does like them. He enjoys the food that I prepare with beans, and cookbooks like this with interesting and inspiring recipes are very helpful in getting to that place.
So anyway, the Rancho Gordo cookbook is loaded with all kinds of recipes. From appetizers, soups, & salads to side dishes & main dishes. There is a section that lists some of Steve’s favorite heirloom bean varieties with a short description of each. Lots of incredible photos too.
Then there is the section for “Basic Cooking Techniques for a Simple Pot of Beans”, which covers everything you need to know about soaking, flavoring, and cooking beans, along with several variations.
There’s tips on storing, along with tips and techniques on other cooking methods, ingredients, and equipment.
I’ve already read it once, and now I’m going back and reading it a second time! It’s really a great encyclopedia of beans! And it’s not just about heirloom beans, because not everyone has access to them. The tips and recipes can be applied to most any type of dried bean.
Oh it’s making me hungry for beans! Going to have to cook up a little pot tomorrow!
And for those that want to learn more about growing their own heirloom beans, Steve Sando has also written another book called “The Rancho Gordo Heirloom Bean Grower’s Guide: Steve Sando’s 50 Favorite Varieties”
I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks; I like putting my own spin on a recipe rather than exactly following it. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.