I’m Kristina - freelance graphic designer, backyard farmer, cookbook reader, project starter, and new mom to a gorgeous little boy.

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February 23, 2011

Making beans

A few of you asked me to post the recipe for the beans we had on our nachos a few weeks ago. So happy to!

Beans are a major staple in our house. I make a huge pot and we eat them all throughout the week. Dashiell thinks they’re delicious and he can pick them up one by one and feed himself, which is great fun. I don’t really have a recipe per se, but I do have a method. And some favorite flavors that I like to add.

I’m going to post my recipe for pinto beans, because they’re our favorite. But there are variations for other types at the bottom of the post.

Pinto beans in the pot

3-4 cups dry pinto beans, soaked overnight in filtered water.
3 bay leaves
2-3 tablespoons dry tarragon leaves
3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat side of your knife

Fill a large stock pot with filtered water. Add the prepped beans, bay leaves, tarragon, and garlic. Bring to a boil. Turn town the heat and simmer until the beans are nice and soft. About 1 1/2 – 2 hours? Make sure you stir regularly so they don’t stick to the bottom. Add a tablespoon or so of salt and as many grinds of pepper as you like. Simmer on low for another 1/2 hour so until the flavor is perfect and the beans start to (possibly) fall apart. You may have to add a bit more salt, depending on your taste. But know that the next day they’ll probably taste saltier than they do at first.

And, um. That’s it. You can also skip the soaking step if you need them for dinner tonight. Or do a quick soak (bring water and beans to a boil, turn off the heat and leave covered on the stove for a few hours) if you have time. If you don’t soak, expect the cooking time to be a bit longer.

Here are some fave variations (measurements are loose):

Black beans w/ 1 large chopped onion, 3-4 cloves garlic, 3 bay leaves, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, salt and pepper.
Cannellini beans w/ 3-4 cloves garlic, a few sprigs of rosemary, handful of chopped sage, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper.


  1. Desi said on February 23, 2011

    That’s usually the way I like to do them too. One exception that I have been doing lately with some really nice results is making a portion of the salt a smoked salt. I really love alderwood or hickory, but I’m sure any type would do. You can get alderwood from

    This is one of my favorite meatless monday dishes.

  2. bigBANG studio said on February 23, 2011

    Mmmm, soooo good. Ok, full disclosure, and promise not to judge?

    i used to be a canned beans girl. Unless I was making a simmer-all-day chili or soup -in which case I’d use fancy nice special dry beans- I’d just use organic canned beans.

    HOWEVER, no canned beans in India. Yours truly is soaking her garbanzo beans in water for tomorrow’s channa masala this very minute. All is well. xo

  3. Kelsey said on February 23, 2011

    I am trying to do more dried beans – yum!
    PS One of my big goals for 2011 is going paperless and plasticless in the kitchen. Was very inspired by your resolve to do so. Going good so far, still need to set up a good system of having a basket of towels/cloths under the sink and a little hamper for them too. And then it’s on to replace the tupperware – good riddance!

  4. Anna @ IHOD said on February 23, 2011

    Beans are a staple in my house as well so I LOVED this post and can’t wait to try it out!
    :) Anna

  5. blake said on February 23, 2011

    thanks for this! I really, really want to get us away from canned beans, for all the reasons you already know. We have leftovers-Taco Nite every Monday, so… we go through some beans. Pinto, black and cannelini, esp!

  6. blake said on February 23, 2011

    love the smoked salt idea, too, Desi. Going to try it.

  7. sally mae said on February 24, 2011

    I love your bean photos! Simple, perfect, and delicious!

  8. Kristina said on March 1, 2011

    @Desi @Blake I love the smoked salt idea too! Must try. I have some from Boulette’s Larder that I really need to use.

    @lily pls pls post channa masala recipe! Unless you did and I missed it. checking now.

    @Kelsey the little hamper will definitely help. I finally got one and now our clothes aren’t soaking wet in the main laundry basket. So happy my little project inspired you!

  9. alyson said on March 1, 2011

    yum, I totally made these last night and they were life altering. I’ve become a dried beans gal, but never thought to season them. doh!

  10. Alexis said on March 13, 2011

    so excited that you posted this… I was going to ask you when I saw you but forgot… fun to see you this weekend! ox

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