I’ve kept on cooking the beans from Rancho Gordo, however frustrated I’ve been by the frustrating art of photographing cooked beans in the kitchen (very frustrating). So for these three beans, you’ll have to make them yourself to see how they look (and of course how damn awesome they taste).

Luckily we can all bask in the warm fuzzy glow of a happy tummy and a deed well done – eating a plant-based meal centered on ayocotes negros with anise seed and roasted pepper cuts pollution (including greenhouse gas emissions), saves land, and conserves water compared to the animal-based alternatives. The PB&J Campaign isn’t JUST about the PB&J, and we know it’s only a matter of time before Americans realize just how yummy and awesome beans are.

Rancho Gordo’s Steve Zando writes that the idea for the company came when he tried a bowl of simply prepared Rio Zape beans. I followed their recommendation and prepared a really simple pot of beans (or at least I did them how I prepare a simple pot of beans) – soaked from the morning, and then cooked in the pressure cooker with a chopped onion, a bay leaf, and a little chipotle en adobo. From here they were the perfect base – for lunch with a little lime and a little salsa, for dinner with a couple fried eggs (okay, not entirely plant-based) and toasted multigrain bread…

Rio Zape beans

Rio Zape beans

Next up, a French classic: flageolet. I tweaked a recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone from Deborah Madison. Basically I chopped up four leeks (sans green parts), sauted most of them (held back about one leek’s worth) in a lot of butter, then combined them with the pre-soaked pound of beans and water to cover the beans by about an inch in the pressure cooker. When they were done I cooked the last of the chopped leek in butter and a half cup of white wine, and mixed that in with the beans. It was perfect – maybe the best pot of beans I’ve ever had (though I probably say that a lot).

Flageolet beans

With Thanksgiving coming up, I decided to do a repeat with some minor changes to make it more American (I couldn”t make a French bean for Thanksgiving). First, I used the classic lima bean in place of the flageolet, and then used a mix of vinegar and apple juice (had no cider vinegar – that would have been perfect) in place of the wine for the last step. Again, awesome, and a big hit at the dinner.

Most recently I tried the ayocote negros – basically a black version of the scarlet runner beans. They’re almost as big, and maybe more impressive with their silky black sheen. Again Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone had a great recipe – this time with roasted red pepper and anise seed. First I cooked the beans in the pressure cooker with some aromatics (bay leaf, parsley, onion) and then drained them (held back a half cup of the bean broth).

Ayocote negro beans

Ayocote negro beans

While the beans were getting blasted in the pressure cooker, I chopped up some jarred roasted red pepper (I’m just too lazy to roast them myself), basil, an onion and then sauteed them with a teaspoon of anise seed. Then I mixed it all together and simmered them for a bit with a quarter cup of dry sherry – until the liquid reduced down to a thicker sauce.

They ended up kind of like the bean version of sausage and peppers. This was my introduction to anise seed in beans – I’ll be doing this again.

Next up, a traditional Mexican variety called Rebosero.

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