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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22 Responses to “Adzuki Beans with Miso and Chopped Kale” Subscribe

  1. lizthechef March 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    New to me as well – what an incredibly healthy dish!
    lizthechef recently posted..Red Onion MarmaladeMy Profile

  2. apuginthekitchen March 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    This sounds really good, I have never had adzuki beans before. I like the way they sound especially the slightly sweet and quick cooking and really love the addition of the smoky bacon. Next time I won’t pass them over when buying my dried beans.
    apuginthekitchen recently posted..Retro Recipe Redux-Chicken And DumplingsMy Profile

  3. Bevi March 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    This sounds delicious. I will be making this when I return from my high caloric travels.

  4. Rodger Helwig March 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    You did it again, Susan. Another auspicious recipe!

  5. Choc Chip Uru March 3, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    What a delicious recipe my friend :)

    Choc Chip Uru
    Choc Chip Uru recently posted..Supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus-ismMy Profile

  6. Mary @ Fit and Fed March 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    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

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 3, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

      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

  7. Norma Chang March 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Adzuki beans are used a lot in Chinese cooking both sweet and savory. I also sprouts them and use them in many forms.
    Here is the link to the sprouting post: http://gardentowok.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/harvest-monday-january-21-winter-kitchen-garden-growing-adzuki-beans-sprouts/
    Here is the link to the stew: http://gardentowok.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/cooking-with-adzuki-bean-sprouts-adzuki-bean-sprouts-winter-root-vegetables-stew/

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 6, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      Thanks so much for the links, Norma! I particularly love the look of the stew since I’m looking out at a snow storm right now. I have a bunch of root vegetables here, and some ginger root. Yay!
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Adzuki Beans with Miso and Chopped KaleMy Profile

  8. TasteFood March 6, 2013 at 7:09 am #

    I’ve never cooked adzuki beans, but all the other ingredients you’ve used are my favorites. A hearty and healthy plate!
    TasteFood recently posted..Irish Beef Stew EncoreMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 6, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      This might be my current favorite bean dish that’s not a soup, Lynda. I’m actually now thinking about mashing some adzuki’s and making brownies. It’s so fun to find something new to play with.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Adzuki Beans with Miso and Chopped KaleMy Profile

  9. Cass @foodmyfriend March 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    So I don’t think I’ve ever tried these beans. Definately never cooked with them. I’m putting them on the shopping list to see if I can find them. With the cold weather coming over here, this looks perfect!
    Cass @foodmyfriend recently posted..Lavender ShortbreadsMy Profile

  10. The Ninja Baker March 7, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    You explained the use of the adzuki beans so well, Susan. (Truly one of the best succinct explanations.) Your savory dish sounds delish!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 7, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

      Thanks so much! I really appreciate it. I just love these beans and am learning so much about them now. Best of all, I feel soooo good after I’ve eaten them. There’s something special going on with them. Thanks for stopping by :-)
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Adzuki Beans with Miso and Chopped KaleMy Profile

  11. Hannah March 11, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Adzuki beans are new to me, too, Susan. I’ve read about them but haven’t tried making them. Knowing my families love for beans, though, I’m sure they’d enjoy them! Thanks for the inspiration!
    Hannah recently posted..Banana Nut Pancakes with Blueberry CompoteMy Profile

  12. Toni Kulma September 26, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    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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