Rancho Gordo Beans grows heirloom beans in Napa. Heirloom varieties tend to have lower yields than other beans, but the payoff is in the flavor and texture. Most Rancho Gordo beans are new world crops, meaning they are indigenous to the Americas.
Originally from Colombia, these beans - Cargamanto - have been bred around the world and have become Madeira, Borlotti, Tongues of Fire, Wren's Egg and many more.
While I packaged up most of these for the potluck giveaways, I kept a pound for myself to try this recipe...
Pasta e Fagioli
adapted from the Food Network recipe
5 cloves garlic, smashed
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 C cubed pancetta
5 canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 C dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight
2 bay leaves
1 piece parmesan cheese rind, plus 1/2 cup grated parmesan, and more for topping
2 C small pasta, such as shells or macaroni
1 bunch kale, stems and ribs discarded, leaves chopped
1/4 C roughly chopped fresh parsley or other herb
freshly ground pepper
freshly ground salt
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary and pancetta and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 5 more minutes. Add the beans, 3 quarts water, the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender, and hour and a half to two hours.
Uncover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. The soup should be thick and creamy; you can thin it with water, if necessary.
Remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Add the grated parmesan and herbs. Top with more olive oil and parmesan.
Or...maybe I'll try this Food52 recipe: Barley and Cranberry Bean Soup!