5 Incredibly Easy Bean Dishes
If you’re starting with canned beans, all you need to do is drain and rinse them and you’re good to go. Dried beans, obviously, need to be cooked first; here is the quick-soak method I use, which is the easiest way to cook beans from scratch.
Consider one of these five recipes to mix up your quarantine repertoire.
1. Black Bean Tostada
This is one of the best possible uses of canned black beans and store-bought tortillas.
Heat pre-cooked or canned black beans, adding ground cumin, chili powder, fresh oregano, and salt. Shred cabbage and chop a few radishes or a chunk of jicama; grate some Mexican melting cheese like queso Oaxaca or cotija, and slice some smoked chorizo or other cooked sausage. Drain the beans and mash roughly. Lightly toast large tortillas under the broiler, then top with the beans, the cheese, and the meat. Return to the broiler to melt the cheese and serve, topped with the vegetables and a dollop of sour cream; put lime wedges on the side.
2. Chard with White Beans and Pancetta (or Bacon)
If you don’t have (or don’t like) chard, use kale, collards, even bok choy. You can eat this on its own, but this is a time for comfort food; serve it with toasted bread or toss it with pasta.
Dice a quarter pound of pancetta and sear in olive oil until golden and getting crisp. Meanwhile, take a large bunch of Swiss chard and chop, keeping stems and leaves separate. Add the stems to the pancetta; when they soften a bit, add the leaves. Stir until wilted, then add a quarter cup of raisins, a quarter cup of pine nuts, and a couple of cups of precooked or canned navy beans (rinsed and drained). Warm until heated through and serve with toasted olive bread or toss with pasta.
3. Mixed Bean Soup or Stew
This is one of those super-satisfying “use whatever the hell you’ve got” recipes. It also makes great leftovers, so if you’re stuck at home and need lunch for the next day, this is a go-to.
In a couple tablespoons of olive oil, cook a diced onion, carrot, and celery stalk until the vegetables soften, then add about four cups of precooked or canned beans (navy beans, cannellini beans, black beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, or chickpeas) with some of their liquid, a couple cups of water or stock, two bay leaves, and a sprig of fresh thyme. Bring to a boil and cook until the flavors blend and the beans are warmed through; add more liquid to achieve the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and thyme sprig and serve.
4. Mussels in Tomato-White Bean Sauce
Let me just say that pretty much anything will taste incredible in a mixture of tomatoes, white beans, garlic, and copious amounts of olive oil. If you can’t find mussels, it could be shrimp. If you can’t find shrimp, it could be chunks of any white fish. If you can’t find anything that comes from the sea, just eat it with crusty bread.
Cook a clove or two of minced garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over low heat for about two minutes, or until fragrant. Add a large chopped tomato (a couple of canned ones are fine), two cups of drained precooked or canned white beans, and two to four pounds of cleaned mussels. Cook, covered, for about five minutes, or until all the mussels open (discard those that don’t). Sprinkle the mussels with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges and good crusty bread.
5. Northern Beans with Spanish Chorizo
This is kind of a glorified addition to a tapas menu, but the combination (white beans, chorizo, olive oil, and parsley) is about as simple and good as it gets.
You can use any cooked sausage you like here, but chorizo is special. Cut chorizo (Spanish smoked, not Mexican raw) into quarter-inch pieces and sear until slightly browned. Mix together some drained precooked or canned great northern beans or other white beans, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and a handful of chopped parsley. Add the chorizo and serve with crusty bread and a mound of arugula.
I’d be happy to cook any (or all) of these for dinner, and even just reading through them is a good way to get those bean juices flowing. Whatever you’re making, I hope you enjoy it.