This story was originally published in February 2021.
Beans are a homecooking super ingredient: inexpensive, nutritious and — most importantly — versatile.
Whether canned or dried, there is a wide variety of beans available at the grocery store, just waiting to be cooked. If you do choose dried though, it’s important to know how to prepare dry beans.
And once you have your beans ready to go, here are 11 recipes with beans that you can use for cheap, delicious and filling meals.
Roasted root vegetable pasta with tomato and cannellini beans
Creamy, protein-packed cannellini beans can transform pasta dinners into something more hearty. This recipe combines them with tomatoes and a melange of root vegetables. They’re roasted and seasoned simply with salt and pepper to create a delicate but filling dish perfect for lunches, dinners and so much more. Try this recipe for roasted root vegetable pasta with tomato and cannellini beans to see for yourself.
Lentils and sausage with stewed tomatoes
Muddy-looking lentils may not be the prettiest bean, but they are adaptable, cheap, high in fiber and nutrient-dense. They also soak up the flavor from spices and aromatics like garlic and onions and hot peppers. For meat eaters, sausage or even kielbasa can be added whole or cut up in chunks and distributed through the cooked, seasoned lentils in this delicious recipe for lentils and sausage with stewed tomatoes.
Refried black beans
Refried beans are easy to make — simply soak your beans (or buy them canned), cook them in onions and fat, mash them up and add seasoning. Once they are prepared, you can make a nacho supper, with tortilla chips sprinkled with cheese run under the broiler, a spread of salsa and some sour cream, or a taco supper with all that same stuff plus shredded carrots and lettuce in a taco shell. Or, make a dip out of the refried beans by pureeing it in a food processor with olive oil. Here’s how to make homemade refried black beans for whatever purpose you may want to use them.
Garlicky white bean soup
Water, beans, garlic, olive oil, bay leaves and lemon juice are all you need to make a great bean soup. Soak the beans and cook them until they are tender, puree half of it to make a creamy base, add salt and pepper, lemon juice to give it a bit of snap and a sprinkle of parsley for color. This bean soup is wicked wholesome and affordable, but tastes expensive and will warm you and your family right up on a cold winter night. Serve this garlicky white bean soup with crusty bread and a salad.
Mujaddara or lentil pottage
This Syrian recipe is a very simple staple porridge-like dish. It has lots of onion, is augmented by bulgur (or you can substitute rice or couscous) and calls for salt and pepper and a hearty handful of cumin, as well as a Northern African spice called ras el hanout, if you can find it. Plus, it is frugal, enough to feed three to four adults from one cup of lentils, a quarter of a cup of bulgur and two onions. Try this recipe for mujaddara, or lentil pottage, to fill your belly.
Curry vegetables and lentil rice
This vegetarian main dish is an Indian curry, where a blend of spices mixes with lentils, rice and lots of veggies — carrots, onions and peas, which are technically also beans. Finish off the warm, filling dish with some fresh cilantro and spicy ginger, garlic, cumin and garam masala. This recipe for curry vegetables and lentil rice is simple, but will taste like a global adventure.
Slow-cooked salmon, chickpeas and mustard greens
Slow-cooked salmon is less likely to overcook, and when prepared correctly, there are a lot of flavors in this dish that come together nicely. Flavorful chickpeas are seasoned with cumin, the greens with honey and garlic. You can replace bitter mustard greens with milder rainbow chard or any other hearty green. The grand finale is a sprinkling of bold, salty pan-fried capers, sizzled and popped to perfection. This recipe for slow-cooked salmon, chickpeas and mustard greens will rock your taste buds.
You can make this recipe with black beans or kidney beans. This taco pie can be made two ways: with crushed tortilla chips on the bottom and a meat and bean mixture on top, or a cornbread mix on the bottom. If you have only a little time, the tortilla chips add a fun crunch, but the cornbread makes the pie feel more substantial. Try this recipe for taco pie that will warm your soul and use up that can of beans.
Sweet potato and black bean chili
This delicious chili is open for so much variation. If you don’t stick to a vegetarian diet, you can use chicken or beef broth, or even add hamburger meat. You could make this chili a lot faster if you used canned black beans, but it’s cheaper if you use dried beans that you soak. You can consider substituting squash for the potatoes as a variation or change the proportion of beans to sweet potatoes to suit your taste or supply. You can even double the recipe and serve a crowd or freeze half for a quick weeknight dinner later in the week. This easy and versatile recipe for sweet potato and black bean chili will soon become a staple in your home cooking routine.
Roasted garlic herb chickpeas
Forget potato chips — roasted chickpeas make for a scrumptious, crunchy snack. Unlike their junk food counterparts, roasted chickpeas are also low in sodium and high in fiber, adding nutrition to your snacking without compromising on flavor. Try this recipe for roasted garlic herb chickpeas for a delicious and nutritious snack.
Maine baked beans
Heirloom beans are what make this classic Maine dish truly special. Southern New England’s prominent bean is the tiny white navy pea bean, but Mainers often prefer big beans like Yellow Eyes, Jacobs Cattle or Soldier. Yellow Eyes, though, are the standard bean for baking beans from scratch. Traditionally, baked beans are served with ham or hot dogs, and brown bread, steamed and rich with molasses. Pickles or coleslaw are also terrific as a side. Attempting this recipe for Maine baked beans is a Mainer’s rite of passage.
Beans are delicious, cheap and nutritious. These recipes will help expand your repertoire of bean recipes and unlock the potential of these creamy, flavorful legumes.