Heirloom Bean Mole with Pumpkin & Kale


I originally published this recipe way back in the beginning of the blog, when cooking with dried beans was still a novelty (and finding fresh pod beans virtually unheard of in my neck of the woods). I’m proud to say that cooking with dried heirloom beans has become old hat, and more & more frequently I see fresh beans, in the pod, at my local farmer’s markets in season.

While I’d love to try this dish with fresh borlotti beans someday, it’s lovely with cooked beans: hearty, spicy, rich & complex. The caramelized onions, the sweet pumpkin and bitter kale, the toasted almonds and deep dark chocolate: all contribute to add many subtle layers of flavor in what is basically a humble bean stew. It won’t feel so humble when you’re enjoying it, I’m sure.

heirloom-bean-moleAdapted from Borlotti Bean Mole at 101 Cookbooks, originally published in Wild Garlic, Gooseberries… and Me, by Denis Cotter.

Heirloom Bean Mole with Pumpkin & Kale


  • ½ lb (about 1 and ½ cups) pumpkin, peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
  • 1 small handful (1 oz) almonds
  • 3 tbsp bacon grease or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 – 4 hot chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 pint canned tomatoes, with juice
  • 10 oz (about 1 and ½ cups) cooked heirloom beans (I used Jacob’s Cattle)
  • 1 small bunch kale (3 and ½ oz), thinly sliced
  • ½ cup orange juice (freshly squeezed makes a difference here)
  • 2 oz 70% dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • rice, dried red chiles, and orange segments, for serving


  1. Toast & grind almonds. In a large dry skillet, toast the almonds over medium heat until fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Cool completely, then grind to a fine powder in a mortar & pestle, spice grinder or food processor.
  2. Brown pumpkin. Using the same skillet, heat 1 tbsp bacon grease or oil until shimmering. Brown pumpkin over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until nicely browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Caramelize onions & chiles. In a medium Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 tbsp bacon grease or oil until shimmering. Add onions and chile peppers. Reduce heat to low and sauté, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned and caramelized, about 30 – 40 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  5. Simmer & roast. Add garlic to the caramelized onions, raise heat to medium, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add paprika and sauté for 1 more minute. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently, covered, for 15 minutes. Add ground almonds, pumpkin, beans, kale, orange juice, chocolate and salt. Stir until the chocolate has melted and mole is bubbling. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours. Check once or twice during the cooking time to make sure it is not drying out. Add water, stock or orange juice as necessary.
  6. Serve. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with rice, chile flakes and orange wedges for spritzing.

Serves 6 – 8.


  1. If tomatoes are in season, substitute 1 lb of fresh plum tomatoes, chopped.
  2. In this mole, a little goes a long way: buy the best chocolate you can, one that you like to eat, because the flavor really comes through.
  3. Save the chile pepper seeds: adjust the heat of the dish by adding back some seeds at the end of the cooking time, as you like.


Refrigerated for up to 1 week. Frozen for up to 3 months.


Fall through winter.


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