Grilled onions and heirloom beans

My nearly effortless dinner.
My nearly effortless dinner.

Grilled onions and heirloom beans are fantastic!

About 19 hours into a 20-hour drive, I found myself planning meals. I had emptied the shelves prior to leaving for a two-week vacation, so my cupboard was bare. Milk and bread, I decided, and the freezer items and pantry items I had on hand, could get me through a few days.


I based a meal on heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo. This Napa, California company’s other products include one truly beautiful lilac-and-black bean called San FRANCISCANO. The company’s website——recommends serving this bean plain, but alongside salsa, grilled onions, cactus paddles, limes, Mexican oregano, and fresh cheese. I had two onions and cheese, and that was good enough for me.


I soaked the beans in a bowl for 24 hours—which is my standard soaking time for dried beans—and changed the water periodically. Distracted, I then let them simmer about 90 minutes, which may have been longer than necessary.


Up close and personal with San FRANSISCANO beans.
Up close and personal with San FRANSISCANO beans.

I sliced onions from Tinicum CSA into ½” and  ¼” thicknesses and grilled them on a hot cast iron pan until they achieved beautiful grill marks. (They are easier to grill if you don’t separate the slices into rings). I drained the cooked beans and placed some in a bowl along with the onions and cheese. The only cheese I had was feta, and I was surprised at how well the flavor blended with the beans and onions. In fact, I was surprised at how tasty beans and onions are in a combined dish. Who needs a cactus paddle? Not me!


Since this delicious, nutritious dish is easily scaled to one and takes little time to prepare, it won’t be long before I make it again. Maybe I will add salsa to the meal next time. The chipotle Gouda in the freezer might also be a good cheese to try with the beans.

My collection of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans.
My collection of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans.

Oh, and by coincidence: The day I was preparing the beans, my mom was successfully preparing Yellow Indian Woman beans in a slow cooker. She followed Rancho Gordo’s advice to cook them with carrot, celery, and onion and was pleased with the result.

Check out the Ranch Gordo website for heirloom beans and recipe ideas.



4 thoughts on “Grilled onions and heirloom beans

  1. I love the idea of making do with what you have in the pantry. I live very far out, so many times must make do with what I have available. Plus working at Rancho Gordo, I always have a plentiful supply of those yummy beans


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