If you’ve spoken to me at all, ever, in the entire course of my adult life, you know that I feel a deep, passionate love for beans. I always tell my husband that if there's a can of beans in the house, dinner is already half-made. I know what you’re thinking, and I know that it’s that funny little ditty we all sang as kids about beans, the magical fruits. Well buckle up, people, because it’s time to talk about the real magic behind the beans: their all-purpose, delightful utility for dinners on any day.
1. Add broth.
This is my absolute go-to for dinner when I don’t feel like cooking but want something deeply nourishing and delicious. Though at first glance, a dinner of brothy beans may just seem like a giant pot of bean glop, I implore you to look past that. When you combine beans with the right spices, some lemon, and fresh herbs, magic happens. The recipe that is linked above is a base recipe, so you can really add whatever flavor you want onto the beautiful blank canvas that is beans. Best of all? You can chill this recipe and make it the perfect side for a gorgeous grilling project after taking a grilling class!
2. Roast ‘em up.
Whether you need a salty snack that’s healthier than chips, some fodder for a springy salad, or something to dump on top of a fried egg, you can’t go wrong with roasting a can of chickpeas in the oven at 425 degrees until they shrink down and turn golden brown. This trick turns a can of beans into a crunchy, interesting protein substitute in 20 minutes, and by adding any of your favorite spices, a dollop of yogurt/sour cream, and some herbs, turns a ho-hum dinner into something restaurant-quality.
3. Make a sandwich.
The first time I made a chickpea salad sandwich for a client, I was doubtful. I don’t love egg salad to begin with, and the idea of replacing eggs with mashed chickpeas had me raising my eyebrow. Reader, how wrong I was! Mash some chickpeas, then mix in some Greek yogurt, capers, chopped scallions, and lemon juice. Season with plenty of salt and pepper, and you’re on your way to your new favorite picnic sandwich.
4. Dip it up.
Canned beans make for an easy mix-in to create all sorts of dip. Of course, you can go the classic route and make a delicious hummus, but don’t be afraid to shake things up and serve your guests a tomato and black bean dip. Feeling super adventurous? Add some cannellini beans, herbs, and yogurt to a food processor and call it the new green goddess dip. This is one of my favorite dinner party tricks, and with Advanced Sommelier Mary Ross’s wine pairing classes in my back pocket, the party basically plans itself!
Beans really are the magical fruit — that’s the final word from me and my weeknight dinners, all of which start with a humble can.
Interested in learning how to work with dried beans as well? We spend an entire day of Culinary Boot Camp exploring the world of beans, vegetables, eggs and grains.