Delicious Ways to Eat More Beans
Beans are an amazing ingredient, and they deserve some more time in the spotlight. From a health perspective, they are naturally low in fat and sodium, contain no cholesterol, are rich in nutrients like iron, potassium, and fiber, and are a powerful and affordable source of plant-based protein. Beans can be purchased either canned or dried, and their versatility allows them to be transformed into an endless array of wonderfully flavor dishes, from soups and dips to meatless meatballs and burritos.
Because of their extraordinary nature, beans serve as the perfect alternative to animal proteins. Adding different beans into your diet can not only save you time and money, but it can also open you up to a world of exciting recipes, tastes, and textures.
Meatless Monday has worked alongside our culinary advisory council to supply you with tips, tricks, and cooking hacks to help you prepare and flavor beans like a professional. We’ve also assembled a quick list of ways to easily incorporate beans into your weekly lunch and dinner menu.
Top Pro Tips and Recipes for Cooking Beans from the Meatless Monday Culinary Ambassadors
Start by Soaking
Soaking dried beans speeds up the cooking time and makes them easier to digest. You can soak the beans overnight, covered in two inches of water or you can do a quick soak, which involves covering the beans with two inches of water, bringing to a boil, and letting them sit for an hour with the heat turned off with the pot covered.
Give a Good Rinse
Remember to rinse and drain your canned beans before you cooking with them. Most canned beans come in a thick, viscous liquid that tends to be full of starch and also loaded with sodium. Add your opened can of beans to a colander and rinse thoroughly before using.
Don’t Over Salt or Add Acidic Ingredients While Simmering
When cooking dried beans, do not add salt or any acidic ingredients like lime, lemon, and vinegars to the cooking liquid, wait until the end, otherwise it will overly tenderize the beans.
Canned beans retain a lot of sodium even after they’re drained and rinsed. Taste your dish before adding extra salt, so that you don’t over season.
Enhance Flavors with Aromatic Seasonings
Meatless Monday culinary advisor, Peter Sokolski, recommends adding herbs and vegetables while the beans simmer. This will make the flavors more prominent versus adding later in the cooking process. Thyme and bay leaves are great flavor enhancers for beans – but have fun with it; add what you enjoy.
Ways to Sneak in More Beans
You can use beans to recreate many of your favorite foods without any animal products by using simple tricks like incorporating different spice blends and using a variety of cooking methods, like roasting, mashing, and pureeing. Try swapping out the meat in these protein-packed chili nachos, black bean burgers, and this recipe for Cajun-style red beans with quinoa and walnut “meat” from Meatless Monday culinary advisor, Kevin Curry.
Dust off that food processor! This wonderful cooking appliance can easily transform beans, peas, and lentils into yummy, scoopable dips. There are the classics like traditional hummus and zippy black bean dip, but you can also let your imagination run wild with combinations like pistachio hummus, pumpkin curry hummus, or this harissa white bean dip from The Delicious Spoon.
Beans can be great raw, sauteed, and pureed, but they can also be delicious when roasted. Roasted beans are easy to make, all you need is some high heat and a roasting pan. For some recipe inspiration, try these everything bagel chickpeas or chickpea and black bean snack mix from Dizzy, Busy, and Hungry.
Adding a can of drained beans into salads, sautés, and pasta dishes is a terrific way to fortify these meals with extra fiber and protein. Beans offer a creamy texture and heartiness that adds a nice contrast to salad greens. Although you can add a can of chickpeas or white beans to classic dishes like Caesar salad, shredded cabbage, or pesto pasta, you can also try incorporating beans into this easy burrito bowl, black bean sesame veggie hash, or hearty Tuscan veggie pasta.
Find a new recipe, or a new spin on an old favorite, that makes beans the star of your Meatless Monday by browsing our recipe library.