I love beans, in just about all their forms. I love hummus, bean dip, falafel, bean salad, bean soup, beans and rice, beans-kale-and rice, 3-bean chili, red bean ice cream, bean hats--okay, maybe not that last one. Though if you own a millinery and want to try it out, I'll give it a go. However, somehow bean casseroles have entirely slipped my culinary mind. It just never occurred to me to make one. That is, until last week when, while tooling around on the internet I came across this recipe on a lovely website called 101 Cookbooks. I found it intriguing mainly for two reasons: 1) I had an open can of chipotles in adobo and a huge chunk of greek feta idling in my fridge and it seemed like just too much of a coincidence to find a recipe that used both, and 2) the combination of flavors from wildly different corners of the gastronomic world (feta and chipotle--whatty what what?) was exciting in its strangeness. Okay, maybe not strange, but it sounded like it might not work, exactly, and being that danger is my middle name, well, I just couldn't resist.
I typed off a quick missive to the Boyfriend: We're having this for dinner. From that point it was a simple matter of picking up a few cans of beans, a can of crushed tomatoes, and one bunch each of kale and cilantro, and we were good to go.
It was DAMN GOOD. Spicy and smoky from the chipotles (which I am coming around on, after having a personal vendetta against this overused spice), creamy and crunchy from the beans and toasted bread crumbs, salty from the slightly melted feta, with that certain earthy herbiness from the cilantro pesto (thank you immersion blender with food processor attachment!). Simple to make, quite prettier than what you might expect from a bean casserole, and perhaps, despite its down-home demeanor, rather sophisticated in flavor. The two of us nearly finished all 6 portions.
The next night, we had a little impromptu gathering at our place and since I had more of almost all the ingredients, I made another batch. It was a BIG hit. And alongside Chef Josh's chicken wings, that's really saying a lot.
Here is the link to the recipe again so you can make it tonight. Seriously. Tonight. You won't be sorry. (Or you will be sorry. If you don't make it. I'm just saying.)
We used Butter Beans, because that's what we could find. Because I am lazy and can't possibly plan ahead, I did the blasphemous thing of using canned beans. But do what you want. I'm not the boss of you. Goody two shoes.
The Chipotle-tomato sauce would be good on pasta, actually. Or as a base for chili. Or some spicy chicken.
An immersion blender with a food processor attachment makes pesto in seconds :)
The first time I made this I added some spicy chicken sausage browned in a pan and crumbled into the sauce.
The recipe says it serves about 6. This is a blatant lie. Expect to finish close to the entire pan. Do not feel bad. This is normal.