Beans are high in fiber and protein, and they make for a hearty meat substitute in many dishes. Try black beans in chili, salads, and salsas and discover how irresistibly buttery and smooth white beans can be after being stewed for a couple of hours.
If you're looking to experiment with beans, or have been a fan for years, here are five recipes that celebrate the versatility of legumes.
Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes plus soaking time for the beans | Serves 6 to 8
- 1 pound dried gigantes or large lima beans
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, grated
- 1 1/4 cups hot vegetable broth, plus more as needed
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
- Pinch dried red pepper flakes
- 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 lemon
Soak the beans. To cold-soak them, cover with plenty of cold water and let them stand overnight. To hot-soak them, cover them with plenty of boiling water and let stand 1 hour.
Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan. Add cold water to cover, season with 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until crisp-tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour (the timing can vary widely and will depend on the type and age of the beans), then drain the beans.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the olive oil, garlic and the onions in a baking dish and bake until the onions soften and turn golden, about 15 minutes. Add the beans to the onion mixture, stirring to coat, and return to the oven for 15 more minutes.
Gently stir in the hot broth, parsley, dried red pepper flakes, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper, or to taste, and bake until the beans are tender and buttery, 20 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. If the mixture begins to dry out before the beans are tender, add a little more broth.
Before serving, season to taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice.
Each of 8 servings: 249 calories; 12 grams protein; 35 grams carbohydrates; 11 grams fiber; 7 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 790 mg. sodium.
Total time: 2 hours, 15 minutes, plus 12 hours soaking | Serves 6
- 1 pound dried gigantes or Italian Corona beans
- Bouquet garni
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 large onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1/2 leek
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Place the beans in a bowl and cover by 3 inches with cold water. Soak 12 to 14 hours. Drain. Place the beans in a heavy-bottomed pot and cover by 2 inches with water. Add the bouquet garni and garlic, and bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Toward the end of cooking, finely chop the onion, carrot and leek. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook until the onions turn golden, 5 minutes.
Remove the bouquet garni, add the onion, carrot and leek. Simmer until the beans are very tender, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Drain off 3/4 (about 2 cups) of the liquid and reduce in a saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a medium-thick consistency, 5 minutes. Return the liquid to the beans, toss and add the parsley sauce. Toss and serve immediately.
Parsley sauce ingredients:
- 4 cups Italian parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 2 cloves garlic
Combine the parsley, butter and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, about 15 seconds.
Each serving: 287 calories; 249 mg. sodium; 41 mg. cholesterol; 18 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 6.42 grams fiber.
Total time: 1 hour, plus 2 hours baking time for the beans | Serves 6 to 8
White beans ingredients:
- 1/4 pound Spanish chorizo, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pound dried white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern
- 7 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the chorizo in olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven over medium heat on the stove top until the chorizo has rendered some fat and begun to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the dried beans, water and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover tightly and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Add the salt, stir and continue cooking, covered, until the beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. The beans should be like a thin stew; if necessary, add more water, one-quarter cup at a time. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Season to taste with more salt if necessary, and freshly ground black pepper. (The dish can be prepared up to this point a day ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered.)
Clams and shrimp and assembly:
- White beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/4 cups crushed tomatoes
- 1 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 pounds Manila clams
- Salt to taste
- Chopped pickled green peppers, such as pepperoncini, for garnish
- Chopped parsley, if desired, for garnish
Reheat the beans, if necessary.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the garlic and parsley and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce to a thin syrup, about 3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
Add the shrimp and clams, cover tightly and raise the heat to high. Cook, frequently giving the pan a vigorous shake (holding the lid on firmly), until the clams have opened, about 5 minutes.
Gently stir the clams and shrimp into the warmed beans and heat through. Season to taste with more salt, if necessary. This makes about 12 cups stew. Ladle the stew into shallow soup or pasta bowls and sprinkle each with about 2 teaspoons of the chopped pickled peppers and the parsley if using. Serve immediately.
Each of 8 servings: 415 calories; 30 grams protein; 42 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams fiber; 14 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 95 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 870 mg sodium.
Total time: 2 hours | Serves 8 to 10
- 1 pound mixed small dried beans
- 1 small yellow onion, unpeeled
- 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 2 pasilla chiles
- 2 habanero chiles
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- 1 cup fresh tangerine juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Salt, pepper
Place the beans, yellow onion and garlic in a large saucepan; add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender but still firm, 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, place the chiles and pepper 6 inches beneath the broiler, turning once or twice, 15 minutes for the pasillas and red pepper and 8 minutes for habaneros. Peel and chop. Place in a bowl with the tomatoes and red onion.
Reduce the tangerine juice in a small saucepan over medium heat to 1/2 cup, 15 minutes. Let cool. Whisk in the vinegar, lime juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Drain the beans; discard the onion and garlic. Let the beans cool slightly, then add to the chile mixture and toss with the dressing while still warm.
Each serving: 98 calories; 209 mg. sodium; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 0 saturated fat; 17 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 3.70 grams fiber.
Total time: 2 hours | Serves 8
- 4 cups dry black beans
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped green bell peppers
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups (1 [28-ounce] can) crushed whole tomatoes
- 1/3 cup finely chopped jalapeno chiles (2 large jalapenos)
- 1/2 pound Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, grated
- Sour cream
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
- 8 sprigs or 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Sort through the beans; discard the funky ones and any small pebbles. Rinse well. Place the beans in a large pot and add enough water to cover them by several inches. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and cook for about 1 3/4 hours, or until tender. Water should always cover the beans, so add more if the beans start to peek through. When the beans are cooked, strain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the reserved cooking water back to the beans.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Toast the cumin seeds and oregano in a small pan until the fragrance is toasty, about 10 minutes.
Saute the onions, bell peppers and garlic in the oil over medium-high heat with the toasted cumin seeds and herbs, cayenne pepper, paprika and salt until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chiles. Add this mixture to the beans and stir well. Add additional seasoning to taste.
To serve, place about one-quarter cup grated cheese in a warmed bowl, add a generous cup of beans, and dollop with a spoonful of sour cream. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon green onions and cilantro.
Each serving: 582 calories; 29 grams protein; 66 grams carbohydrates; 23 grams fiber; 24 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 25 mg. cholesterol; 502 mg. sodium.
Want more recipes? Follow me on Twitter: @Jenn_Harris_