Kidney Bean Bake

This is one of my husband’s specialties… he loves it paired with my skillet corn bread recipe, and while it’s simple, it takes a LONG SLOW time to bake, so though he talks about it quite often, he really makes this once a year.  It’s rich and sweet with a slight spice.

Kidney Bean Bake with Corn Bread & Kale

It’s a great warm winter dish… because it cooks all day, you keep the kitchen warm with the oven.  Plus kidney beans are a wonderful winter selection.  Very high in protein, rich in flavor, grounding, earthy & heavy… all the qualities we look for in a winter food.  Because kidney beans are toxic if  eaten raw (who would do that?!), or if cooked at extremely high temperatures, they make a perfect bean for “low & slow” cooked stews and bakes like this recipe. Beans in general in Ayurveda are always soaked, with the soaking water discarded, and cooked with digestive spices to mitigate the gassiness – this recipe uses cinnamon.  I recommend that you soak the beans overnight, and then start baking early in the morning so that the meal is ready for lunchtime… this way you will have this meal when your digestive fire is at its zenith point – around noon – the ideal time to eat heavier & high protein items.  This is a great dish for a rainy or snowy day when you plan to stay inside.

The first time we made this was when we were living in the National Redwood Forrest on the northern California coast… it was very “The Shining” – we were caretakers for a 30 bed hostel during the low season… so we baked this dish all day, listening to the waves crashing outside, against the silence of a big empty house.


  • 2 cups dried kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 7 cups hot water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2/3 cups molasses
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard powder
  • 20 black peppercorns (you can slightly crush them in a mortar & pestle)
  • 8 TB tomato paste (buy in a glass jar)
  • 1 and 1/2 Cup butternut squash or sweet potato, cut into cubes
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  1. Heat the oven to 275F
  2. Drain the beans and place in a pain with the hot water. Bring to a boil and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Skim off white foam.  Transfer the beans and cooking water to a baking dish.
  3. Add the bay leaves, 1/3 cup of the molasses, mustard powder and peppercorns. Cover with a baking lid (or aluminum foil) and bake for 6 hours.
  4. Check every hour or 2 to give a stir & see if it’s getting dry, (then add some more water – over the course of the 6 hours you’ll for sure add more water).  You can choose whether you want this dish to be for spoons (soupier) or forks (stickier)… we had a stickier version
  5. Stir in the tomato paste, sweet potato or squash, carrot, celery, salt, cinnamon stick, and the other 1/3 C molasses.  Bake for 2 hours longer.
  6. Serve warm.

Serving Ideas

I really can’t imagine too many other ways to have this besides with some kind of steamed or stirfried greens (we did kale with shredded ginger in sesame oil) and some corn bread or polenta… maybe a piece of crusty bread.  This is serious southern comfort food… I felt like wearing a ‘do rag and singin’ in the kitchen.


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