These cranberry beans with warm spices are not your ordinary legumes. Gently simmered with cinnamon and carrots in a white wine-infused broth then finished with lemon and fresh mint, they are a refined bowl of creamy comfort food.
Pretty-pink and nutrient-dense cranberry beans have a more delicate flavor than pinto beans and are as creamy as cannellini beans; we wanted to highlight these special beans in a spiced side dish.
Eating more fiber can mean eating more beans for many, so it’s nice to embrace canned beans. But it’s also nice to take the time and care to perfect cooking dried beans. To help our cranberry beans cook up creamy and tender, we soak them overnight in salt water before thoroughly rinsing them to remove any excess salt.
We sauté carrots in aromatic garlic oil, along with tomato paste for depth of flavor; just a touch of cinnamon imparts a subtle sweet, warm spice. In addition to broth, we cook the beans in white wine for acidity, and letting them cook through in the gentle heat of the oven ensures that they are perfectly cooked without constant monitoring.
We complete our dish with lemon juice and mint, which nicely balance the warm, rich flavors of the beans. If cranberry beans are not available, you can substitute pinto beans. —America’s Test Kitchen
Cranberry Beans with Warm Spices FAQs
Originally from Colombia, cranberry beans also go by other names such as borlotti, Madeira, saluggia, and wren’s egg beans. Texturally, they’re delicate and creamy. Famous for their nutty flavor, cranberry beans work magic in cold-bean salads, hearty soups, and pastas. And they’re great in classic Greek, Italian, and Portuguese dishes.
The best way to reheat beans is gently. Spoon the cold beans into a saucepan and splash in some chicken stock or water. Because beans are so starchy and thicken when refrigerated, they need liquid to loosen them. Warm the beans over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
It’s ok, you can say it: How do you avoid farting when eating beans? Good question. Beans cause gas because they contain sugars and fiber that we have a hard time digesting. When these sugars rumble with the bacteria naturally found in our large intestines, well, they rumble, causing you to fart. But that’s no reason to avoid them. Beans are a great source of plant-based protein and can help prevent some chronic diseases.
To lessen your discomfort, soak beans overnight–and discard the soaking water. Chew completely. (I know sounds weird, right?) The smaller the pieces, the more easily nutrients and fiber can be digested. Drink lots of water while eating. It keeps things moving along. And if all else fails, try digestive enzymes. They really do work. (From what I hear…or rather don’t hear.)
Cranberry Beans with Warm Spices
- 3 tablespoons table salt for brining
- 4 quarts plus 1/2 cup water divided
- 1 pound dried cranberry beans picked over and rinsed
- 1/4 cup garlic oil
- 2 carrots peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- In a large bowl or container, dissolve salt in 4 quarts cold water. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain in a colander and rinse well.
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In a Dutch oven over medium heat, warm oil until shimmering. Add carrots and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cinnamon, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
- Stir in wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Stir in broth, 1/2 cup of water, and beans and bring to boil.
- Cover the Dutch oven, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are tender, about 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes.
- Stir in lemon juice and mint. Season with salt, pepper, and extra lemon juice, to taste. Adjust consistency with extra hot water as needed. Serve.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I reached into my stash of Rancho Gordo beans and happily had cranberry beans. These cranberry beans with warm spices were a hit and so easy to put together; I’d never have thought of using cinnamon and mint but they were quite lovely.
I resisted the urge to add a chopped onion to the carrots while sautéing, but next time I probably will. I find garlic oil has an odd flavor so I minced four cloves and started them in the oil for two minutes before adding the carrots. The beans only needed an hour in the oven for tasty perfection. Delicious creamy beans with a whisper of cinnamon and mint, and the cinnamon aroma while cooking was soothing. This recipe serves 6 to 8 depending on bean love, and I took portions to work for yummy dinners. As always, a good pot of beans is delicious all by itself.
I love a good pot of beans. They’re warm, comforting, economical, and many times versatile. This cranberry beans with warm spices recipe came together easily and produced 9 cups of tasty sustenance.
This recipe seems forgiving. Or adaptable. Maybe both? I intended to follow the recipe as written but a few changes happened along the way. First, I was unable to find cranberry beans so I subbed in pinto beans. Second, I soaked my beans for 12 hours but only added the salt for the last 4 hours. (Truth be told, it’s because I forgot to add it in in the beginning.) Finally, my beans were cooked to perfection at 60 minutes.
We enjoyed these the day they were made but found we liked them better a few days later. The mint became less forward, it mellowed a bit, and it flavored the entire bite. We ate these with different proteins during the week and when we got down to the last little bit I smashed them up, put them on a warm tortilla, and sprinkled with some feta cheese.
Originally published January 14, 2022