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Corona Beans with Tomato, Spinach, Feta & Walnut Herb Crumble

I fell in love with the story of Rancho Gordo Beans. A cook and farmer, frustrated by the lack of ingredients native to the Americas, began harvesting native heirloom beans. The product was the birth of Rancho Gordo, a bean business like no other I’ve found.
But, why beans? First, beans are high in plant-based protein. They provide a wide variety of vitmains and minerals, and are an excellent source of disease fighting antioxidants (different varietals offer different antioxidants, so mix it up!). They also are good sources of potassium, iron and folic acid.  Beans are high in both types of dietary fiber, meaning when part of you diet, they improve the health of your digestive tract and reduce colon cancer risk. They also work to lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In regards to weight management, I recommend beans because they are a filling food, helping you feel full with less and they have a low glycemic index paired with high fiber – meaning eating beans actually lowers the amount of sugar absorbed into the blood stream (that’s a very good thing).
This bean based recipe is one that will easily become a favorite – it makes a healthy portion that can be made in advance and enjoyed throughout the week. I highly recommend soaking your beans overnight, but they can be pressure cooked if you’re in a time crunch.
Ingredients:
2 cups Rancho Gordo Royal Corona Beans
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
sea salt
water
1 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/3 tsp. red chili flakes
2 cups chunky tomato sauce
3 cups fresh spinach
1 cup feta crumbles
Walnut Crumble:
2 T. grass-fed butter 
1/2 cup walnuts, very finely chopped
3 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
pinch sea salt

Directions:

Cover beans with water and soak overnight (preferable, but soaking even 4-8 hours will help).
Drain beans and rinse. Add beans to medium stock pot and cover with a generous amout of water (about 6 inches over the top of the beans). Add bay leaves, pinch of salt, garlic, and onion and bring to a rolling boil for 10-15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and partially cover allowing liquid to simmer 2 hours or until beans are tender.  Drain beans and discard bay leaves. Set beans aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrot and celery, season with sea salt and pepper, and stir frequently until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the dried herbs, red pepper flakes and 2 cups chunky tomato sauce and fold in the cooked beans, then add the crumbled feta, spinach, turn off heat and stir just until wilted. Transfer into 8×9 pan or casserole dish and place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
In a small skillet heat 2 T. butter over medium heat. Add the chopped walnut and herb mixture and gently toast, stirring frequently until gently toasted.
Remove the baked beans from oven and top with walnut and herb topping.

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