White Beans with Ground Beef and Tomato Sauce, Our Dad's favorite beans

Welcome to Our Sunday Café, we are pleased you stopped by for a visit. Today we are offering another delicious recipe from our kitchen. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did…

Growing up we ate very little food in rotation. It seemed my folks, Dad especially liked to eat a wide variety of different food. Living in California made this possible. Living in the Marin County area, made this easy. Dad was a commercial refrigeration repairman. He often was called to the docks in San Francisco and worked on some of the largest refrigeration units in "the city" including many on large fishing and crabbing boats.

Food was everywhere, in one form or another. Dad was in the thick of it, every day. More than once, he came home with some special "find" that captured his fancy in a market or deli tucked out of the way, yet frequented by all the hungry working people in the area. Dad was a "foodie" before the term had been coined, and lucky for him he had a great and loving cook in our Mom.

But these beans were kind of a regular, probably three times a year we would have these beans for supper. Usually on a Saturday, as these beans do take a while to cook. Not a lot of attention, but in fact, about 4 - 5 hours cooking time. Dad could have eaten these much more often, there was only one problem. Mom hated beans. And of course she was rather vocal about it, but she did love Dad dearly so she would put away her opinions and cook these for "Daddy" as she called our Dad.

Recently I have been learning to cook beans, a simple little goal I set for myself, a couple of years ago. I thought for the longest time that I didn't even like beans. Maybe it was something I had heard growing up? But truthfully I enjoy beans. I simply did not know how to cook them. I have had very little success in cooking beans in a slow cooker, so I don't bother anymore. And besides, there is such enjoyment in smelling the delicious dish as it cooks away on a lazy Sunday morning. These could be cooked in a slow oven if you wanted to keep busy with other tasks, or wanted to leave for a while.

 Great Northern beans were used for this batch, they are equally delicious.

I have made a small change to how the beans are made. Mom and Dad both used tomato sauce. One can of tomato sauce does not seem to be enough, yet 2 cans yielded beans with too much tomato flavor. Dad would use a partial second can, Mom always used the 2 full cans. My small change is to use a can of tomatoes and "sauce" them in the blender. I think it provides just enough tomato flavor. This is a simple dish of ground beef and beans. It is homey and comforting. Serve on a soup plate and pass the salt and pepper.

Cooking White Beans and Ground Beef and Tomato Sauce.
White Beans with Ground Beef and Tomato Sauce. 

White Beans with Ground Beef and Tomato Sauce, Our Dad Ken's favorite beans!
adapted from: my childhood memories and information gathered in conversations with my Mom.

1 pound of small white beans, prepared*
1 pound of lean ground beef
1 T thyme
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can ready to use diced tomatoes
black pepper (I use about 7 "grinds" on the grinder)
2 t salt

Brown the ground beef.

My beef was a bit watery from being in the freezer, simply let it cook until dry enough to brown.

Add the thyme, garlic and pepper. Continue to brown until the flavors of each are fragrant. Add 3 cups of  water to the pan, stir and simmer the brown caramelized juices off the bottom of the pan.

Puree the tomatoes and 1 can full of water in a blender to make a slurry. Add to the pan, along with the prepared beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover the pan. Let simmer 2 hours, stirring at the one hour mark and reset the timer for another hour. Add the 2 teaspoons salt. Cover and simmer another 2 hours or until beans are done. If the mixture is a bit soupy, turn the heat up and simmer off some of the liquid.

It was interesting to take a process that I observed as a kid, and turn it into an actual recipe. I hope you enjoy these beans as much as we do.


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* soak beans over night in plenty of water, drain and rinse.OR  For a quick soak, put beans in a large covered pan, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, simmer 30 minutes. Set aside and let rest 1 hour. Drain well, use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use in your favorite recipe.


  1. These sound fantastic but even more so since they have a history in your family. Amazing is all I can say!!

  2. I think I would love these beans too! I love family recipes.

  3. we love beans. we eat A LOT of them!

  4. I used to hate beans when I was a child. Now I can't get enough!

  5. It was ground beef and beans here at my house last night too. But I used pinto beans, and chopped up a bunch of roasted and frozen chile peppers, and some corn to throw in. Some onions, tomatoes, garlic, and cumin, and I had a big pot of chili con carne. Oh, and a panful of cornbread too.

  6. Love the story of your Dad and his love for food. The beans sound good too!


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