Adzuki Beans with Miso and Chopped Kale

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Hearty legume dish with smoked bacon, miso and kale.

Legumes healthy dish with adzuki beans, bacon, miso and kale

Ad-what? Adzuki. These beans were new to me too. I’d seen them in the bins at the market where I purchase my other dried legumes, but didn’t know anything about them. I guess I figured they were like most any other bean. But when I saw a recipe for them in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times, I decided it was time to experiment.

First of all, this little bean may win the versatility award. Popular in Japanese dishes, Adzuki beans have a faintly sweet flavor, and in Japan are boiled with sugar and mashed into a paste to be used as a filling for desserts. But the beans are also mixed with rice for a traditional dish prepared for auspicious occasions.  Since I’m watching my sugar intake right now, I decided on the savory route (for now). These beans are a little different from the rest, and it took a few experiments before landing on a combination of flavors that even my husband loved.

Cooking Tips

This is a quick cooking bean and shouldn’t require longer than a 90 minute simmer on the stove. But if you want a super fast cooking time, you can soak the beans for a couple of hours (or even overnight), but don’t throw away the soaking water. It makes a great base for a vegetable stock.

If you soak the beans overnight, a 30 – 45 minute simmer will give you a perfect al dente bean.

Any unused cooked beans can be refrigerated for one week, or for at least two months in the freezer.

This recipe can be made as much as two days ahead, except for adding the kale, and kept in the refrigerator. Heat up and toss in the raw kale just before serving. You just want the heat of the beans to wilt the kale.


Adzuki Beans with Miso and Kale

     by Susan Pridmore

     Serves 2 entrees or 4 side dishes

       Prep Time: 15 minues

       Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes


  • 1 1/4 cups dried adzuki beans (or 2 cups cooked)
  • 3 slices smoked bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 – 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 Serrano pepper, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon miso paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups raw shredded kale
  • feta or ricotta salada cheese
  • pinch of dried red pepper flakes


These little beans don’t require a pre-soak as they cook faster than many other beans, but I usually soak them overnight anyway for a super quick simmer. Rinse the dried beans and place them in a large pot. Add enough water come up two inches above the beans, cover the pot, and go to bed. The following morning, drain off the beans, reserving the water. The water makes a great base for a vegetable broth, and in a pinch I’ve used it instead of broth. Cover the beans with water again, by about 1 inch, and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, or until al dente. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

Fry the bacon lardons until crispy.

Drain off all by 2 tablespoons of bacon grease, and add the onion, garlic, and Serrano pepper. Sauté unless softened. Add the cooked beans, and miso paste, being sure to distribute the paste through the mixture. Stir for about one minute, and remove from the heat.

Add the rice vinegar, salt, and ground pepper.

Remove the center tough vein of the kale leaves and thinly slice the leaves horizontally. Stir the kale into the beans so that the heat of the beans wilts the leaves.

Optional: Sprinkle a little feta cheese and dried red pepper flakes on top.

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  1. says

    This recipe was sounding almost macrobiotic with the adzuki beans and miso until I got to the part about the bacon. That bit of meat is in so many chili-type recipes, the fat and smoky flavor are very useful I’m sure. Smoked paprika or chipotle (or smoke flavor, if it doesn’t worry you) plus some extra fat and salt are good substitutes for those like me that don’t eat ham, though yeah, I’m sure it isn’t the same.
    Mary @ Fit and Fed recently posted..Coconut Chia PuddingMy Profile

    • says

      Without the bacon, it’s absolutely a great macrobiotic dish – you’re right, Mary. I added it to draw my husband (the resident carnivore) to the dish, but I would love to try it next time with the smoked paprika. I also have some dried chipotle peppers, and could add one to experiment with. I’m not looking to add heat, though, just the smokiness in this particular recipe. Thanks so much!!
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Adzuki Beans with Miso and Chopped KaleMy Profile

  2. Toni Kulma says

    I love making an adzuki bean dish with collard greens. The flavors meld very well together. I use liquid smoke to add a smoky effect when I cook collards or a dish such as yours because I only eat plant based dishes. Adzukis make a nice replacement for the blackeye peas in a “beans and greens” dish I often make using collard greens. I would like to try adzukis also with cabbage. Hmmm. Maybe today.

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