Celebrate Mardi Gras With Recipes From The Oldest Bean Company In The U.S.

Food & Drink

Beginning in 1923, Lucius H. Hayward Jr. made it a point to support his native city of New Orleans, particularly its under served communities, through philanthropic efforts. As early as The Great Depression, through World War II, and more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hayward family, proprietors of Camellia Brand Beans, have always been there to help. As the first dry bean company in the United States celebrates its 100 anniversary, the family reflects on their legacy and shares delicious recipes.

“We are a company that began with my great grandfather, a self-made businessman,” said Vince Hayward, CEO, L.H. Hayward and Company. “His early life would not be characterized by riches: he began selling beans from a cart in the French Market, so understanding what it takes to survive is something we are reminded of within each generation of Haywards.”

During The Great Depression beans became an essential staple in most American homes. Red beans and rice, navy bean soup, Kentucky Burgoo, and Hoppin’ John are among the dishes that helped people get by during these economically perilous times. With the onset of World War II, beans became much easier to store and transport than meat, providing nutritious, protein-rich meals to struggling families.

After the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Camellia assisted the military and Louisiana chefs providing red kidney beans to prepare the traditional red beans and rice, spanning all neighborhoods of New Orleans while grocery stores were closed for miles – and months.

The COVID-19 pandemic raised awareness of the U.S. food insecurity crisis, and Camellia made it their mission to assist, donating red kidney beans and other bean varieties to various groups such as the Culture Aid NOLA and the Salvation Army. Camellia also assisted with Feed the Front Line to provide meals to the hard-working health care workers and Feed the Second Line, to ensure the city’s cultural bearers were also fed.

This ongoing desire to ensure adequate food resources in all communities is deeply embedded in the cultural and social values of Camellia. Vince Hayward does not centralize Camellia’s efforts but broadens their reach to organizations that help low-income families like food distribution programs, community kitchen meal services, nutrition education, shelters, food banks, schools and public benefits to ensure that families always have a meal on their table.

“We’re proud to be a part of the fabric of New Orleans, a city inextricably tied to tradition,” says Hayward. “In terms of being a good citizen to this community, we donate to those doing good deeds, large or small. This commitment can be traced back to my great grandfather, who founded the company 100 years ago.”

Although red kidney beans are their flagship product, Camellia carries and promotes other tasty and nutritious varieties. Pink beans, for instance, are often found in Old West recipes as their meaty flavor and slightly powdery texture hold spices very well. Great Northern beans have a delicate, nutty flavor that perfectly complements soups, stews, and casseroles. They’re also a prime ingredient in Kentucky burgoo, a favorite of the Blue Grass State that also includes meats, potatoes, carrots, celery, turnips, peas, tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce.

Rich with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, lima beans are often considered one of the most nutritious legumes. Originally planted by Native Americans in the South, they are a key ingredient in succotash. Baby lima beans are also a great addition to curries and sausage stews. Black eyed peas are a vital ingredient to soul food and other Southern cuisines. They offer a distinct and delicate flavor and are the main ingredient in Hoppin’ John and customarily enjoyed on New Year’s Day.

Pinto beans are the most popular bean served in America, essential to Tex-Mex cuisine and chili, as well as three-bean salads, minestrone soup, stews, and casseroles. Crowder peas are enjoyed at most Southern Sunday suppers after service. Also known as cow peas and Southern peas, these hearty-flavored beans are the star in popular dishes such as field peas with okra and Southern-style Lady Cream peas.

“There is a resurgence in home cooking, but also an expectation that it be approachable and easy,” says Hayward. “Not only are we constantly generating recipes and dish ideas on the Camellia blog, but we have also created products that are already measured with step-by-step instructions included. We’ve recently introduced Dinner and Seasoning Mixes that make cooking our beans easy.”

The five Dinner & Seasoning Mixes are non-GMO, contain no MSG, are free of artificial colors and flavors, and vegetarian and vegan friendly. Designed with dietary restrictions in mind, all mixes are gluten and soy-free, except for the Gumbo Mix. All Camellia products are available online and in retailers across the country.

“The reality is that consumer preferences change, so we must pivot and stay relevant – not in terms of the production of the bean itself, but in having the beans become part of an engaging experience,” says Hayward. “So, that is where we’re headed for the next 100 years.”

Beans & Greens Soup

Yield: 10 cups

1 pound Camellia Brand dried garbanzo or navy beans

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter

2 cups chopped onion [white, red, leeks, shallots, or any combination]

3 garlic cloves, chopped

8 cups broth [vegetable, chicken, beef, mushroom]

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed

3 cups greens, chopped [kale, collard, spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage]

2 tablespoons vinegar [red wine, cider, white balsamic, etc.]

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Rinse and sort peas. Heat olive oil, or butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté for approximately three minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add broth, beans, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender. Add more broth or water as needed. Stir in greens, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook until greens are wilted (one minute for spinach, up to twenty minutes for collards or chard.)

Cannellini Bean Muffaletta Salad

Recipe by Poppy Tooker

Yield: 10-12 servings

1 pound Camellia Brand Cannellini beans

1 jar (32 oz.) Italian olive salad

.25 pound Genoa salami, thinly sliced

.25 pound Prosciutto, thinly sliced

.25 pound Mortadella, thinly sliced

1 cup Provolone cheese, diced

Rinse and sort beans. In a large to medium saucepot, cook beans until tender. Drain, rinse, and reserve. Mix beans with the remaining ingredients and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. If not consuming immediately, cover tightly and refrigerate. Can be stored for up to 5 days.

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