How to Turn Beans into Exciting Dishes You will Savor!
The news these days is super depressing. It is all about inflation, war, and climate change affecting our food supply.
If the rising cost of living has you worried, it is time to look for foods that will give you the best bang for your buck and change the way you consume food.
Time to rethink beans. This inexpensive, environmentally sustainable, nutrition-packed protein powerhouse is seriously underrated.
Let’s look at some exciting bean dishes that can easily replace any expensive source of protein in your daily diet. Here are some of our favorite bean creations!
1. Bean Mash
We’ve all had beans as a side dish – from the Mexican refried beans to the French-Canadian maple bacon beans, and who doesn’t love ranch beans in a southern fare!
But have you considered replacing the plain old mashed potatoes with a different bean dish for a change? Yes, rice, quinoa, and grainy goodness can do that trick. But when you need that creamy, soothing mushy side dish that only mashed potatoes could offer, try a bean mash instead.
Bean mash is a versatile dish that can be adopted to cuisines worldwide – from the familiar refried beans in Mexican dishes to an Italian flavored cannellini bean mash to even a South Asian mash; you can jazz up a can of beans in so many different kinds of mash.
For the classic Italian-inspired Cannellini bean mash, you will need to heat a can of white kidney beans (also called cannellini beans) in a microwave-safe bowl for a minute or two (depending on your microwave strength). Drain the water and reserve the bean water for later use.
Add some crushed garlic, a tablespoon of olive oil, a small finely chopped shallot, juice of half a lemon, salt, and pepper, and mash all up with a potato masher. Add the bean water you reserved earlier to get the creamy texture you are looking for. Then add some chopped flat-leaf parsley and grate in some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Try a bean mash as a side to your steak dinner next time. For more ideas on jazzing up your steak dinner, check out this post.
2. All About The Hummus!
We all know the regular store-bought hummus by now. It is marketed as a perfect dip for snacking. But did you know that hummus is an excellent way to replace protein on your plate?
The better news is that hummus doesn’t have to be made from garbanzo beans (chickpeas); you can experiment with several different kinds of beans to make your own signature concoction.
And making it is super easy. Just take a can of any type of beans you like, a tablespoon or so of tahini, juice of a lemon, a few garlic cloves, some extra virgin olive oil, and blend it together. You will need a good blender as this creamy dish needs a little extra effort. Check out our post on blenders if you are looking to compare blender brands.
My favorite is a beet black bean hummus without tahini – all you need is some :
- ¼ cup of canned black beans (reserve the water in the can)
- 1 beetroot chopped up
- 3 garlic cloves
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Juice of 1 lime (or small lemon)
- 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
- Water is required to get the consistency you need
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until it forms a hummus-like paste.
Enjoy this mouthwatering concoction with some rice and grilled fish or grilled veggies.
3. Rajma (Red Kidney Beans) Curry
Rajma is Hindi for red kidney beans. Rajma curry is a very common dish in Punjabi and North Indian cuisine. The rich and creamy dish costs just a few dollars for the entire family. Try this next time you have an appetite for Indian food on Meatless Mondays!
Rajma Curry recipe:
- One can of red kidney beans (Note: you can substitute this with any beans of your choice)
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon of garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon of ginger paste (you can also grate in the ginger)
- 1 tablespoon of curry powder of your choice (if you are feeling really adventurous, you can make your curry powder)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- ½ cup of crushed canned tomatoes
- ¼ cup of coconut milk (optional, and you can use cream too for a non-vegan edition)
- ¼ cup of chopped cilantro
- 1 chopped jalapeno or green chili (optional)
Sautee the onions in the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the onion gets translucent, add the tomato, ginger, and garlic pastes and saute for a minute.
Add in your curry powder and salt and pepper, and slightly fry the spices. Then add in the beans (again, reserve the water). Sautee it a bit, then add in the crushed tomatoes. At this point, you can also add potatoes if you would like a potato and bean curry. Add in the bean water, mix it well, and let it simmer.
Let the bean curry simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, and check to see if it all tastes good. Then remove it from the stove, and add the coconut milk (which is totally optional). Garnish with cilantro, green chili pepper, and voila – you have your main for meatless Mondays!
If curry isn’t your thing, you can skip the curry powder altogether, add in some cumin and paprika, and make it a Mexican-style bean stew.
Beans are an excellent source of plant protein. It is rich in fiber, iron, disease-fighting vitamins, and anti-oxidants. You can incorporate more beans into your diet if you are looking to venture into healthy, clean eating and be more environmentally conscious about your food.
In these inflationary times, you can replace expensive meats and seafood for some weeknights with beans. So, don’t order that pizza, and instead, try one of our recipes with that ignored little can of beans you had at the back of the pantry.