My huge dried, white corona beans arrived last Wednesday. Even larger and more gorgeous than I thought they’d be. And once cooked, oh my. I couldn’t wait to try them. So exceptional in appearance, taste, texture and size. With a swirl of baby super greens and a grating of Pecorino, Corona Beans and Greens became dinner. With a splash of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper, leftover Corona Beans and Greens became lunch.
Plump and super creamy coronas are much larger than typical lima beans. They also retain their shape well when cooked. With their size and texture, coronas are exceptional in bean salads and soups.
Giant, fat, white runner beans.
Steve Sando, owner of Rancho Gordo, describes his company’s Royal Corona beans as “creamier and more luxurious than Greek and Spanish gigandes and a little denser than traditional Italian coronas. Royal Corona beans can replace any white bean but be prepared to be astounded by how big they are when cooked . . . . (although this bean’s origins are clearly in Mexico), we are happy to offer you this giant legume, created in Mesoamerica, bred in Italy and grown in Poland.”
According to The Bean Institute, pre-soaking dried beans before cooking them offers two significant benefits.
- Reduction in the cooking time.
- Breaking down of the compounds that cause flatulence.
America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School knows beans. They take pre-soaking beans to another level by recommending the addition of salt to the soaking water. They call it “brining the beans.” They found that brining the beans for up to 24 hours at room temperature makes for the most evenly cooked, tender and creamy beans. Based on how excellent our Corona Beans and Greens have been, I now brine my beans.
Dried versus canned
Canned beans are easy to find, a tremendous time saver, and usually taste great.
On the other hand, slow cooking dried beans with aromatic vegetables and herbs enhances the flavor of your beans beyond that of even the best can of beans.
Many years ago, I once found a small can of gigande (gigantic) beans at my neighborhood Trader Joe’s. That’s when my love affair with these plump and meaty beans began. I’ve never found another can of these beans.
Ever since making the Tuscan White Bean Salad, I’ve begun searching for gigantic white beans in earnest. I so enjoy this salad with canned cannellini beans. Yet, I’ve been imagining how even tastier it would be with these gigantic beans. I now get to find out.
You may be able to find dried coronas in Mediterranean stores or specialty food markets. (Though, I wasn’t even able to find dried cannellinis in our small Montana town.) Other white beans such as Great Northern, cannellini or large limas are suitable substitutes for coronas.
For tender skin and creamy interiors, begin soaking beans the day before you want to cook them. Thank you, America’s Test Kitchen for perfecting the process of brining beans before cooking them. These large corona beans fully cook in about about 2 ½ hours of gentle simmering. If you substitute other white beans such as Great Northern, cannellini or large limas for the coronas, the cooking time will vary.
Transform any leftover Corona Beans and Greens into a salad with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper.
Makes 6-7 cups Printer-Friendly Recipe
Soaking 8-24 hours
Cooking 2 ½ to 3 hours
1 pound (2 cups) dried corona beans
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup ¼-inch diced purple or yellow onion
1 cup ¼-inch diced carrots
1 cup ¼-inch diced celery
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 bay leaves
2 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
4 cups baby mixed super greens (chard, kale and spinach)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Grated Pecorino cheese to taste
- Pick through the beans, discarding any broken beans or debris. Rinse the beans in cool water.
- In a large bowl, dissolve the salt in 4 quarts of water. Add the beans. Cover with a towel. Soak/brine the beans from 8 to 24 hours.
- Drain and rinse the beans well to remove any residual salt.
- Put the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When hot stir in the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Cover the pot and cook for about 7 minutes or just until the onions become translucent. Uncover the pot. Stir in the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs.
- Add the rinsed and drained beans. Add enough water to cover the beans by 2 ½ inches.
- Bring the water to a hard boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer with the lid slightly ajar.
- Check on the beans occasionally during the first two hours and give them a stir. Make sure the water continues at a gentle simmer.
- After 2 hours taste test a bean to see how they are cooking. Mine have taken 2 ½ hours to become creamy and tender.
- When you think the beans are done, taste at least 3 beans to be certain.
- When your beans are tender, gently stir in the baby greens. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve your Corona Beans and Greens in individual bowls along with some of the very flavorful cooking broth. Pass the Pecorino cheese.