Nutrient-rich, cheap, and shelf-stable, dried beans will transform your cooking. Follow our master method for the perfect batch every time.
September 18, 2012
1 of 21Photo: Jennifer Causey
Red Beans and Rice
If you want stick-to-your ribs fare, this dish is it: The beans and brown rice deliver complex carbohydrates and protein, both of which take longer to digest. We love the smoky heat of andouille sausage, but regular smoked turkey sausage links or hot Italian sausage also work.
Fragrant fresh rosemary and mild cannellini beans are a fantastic duo. You can also mash the two together for crostini or stir them into soup. Add the rosemary to the dressing rather than to the simmering pot of beans so its flavor doesn't overpower. Poaching shrimp in the shells helps keep the shrimp from overcooking.
The water used to cook a pot of beans is really liquid gold, infused with aromatics and thickened with starch from the beans. It makes perfect sense to give the cooking liquid a second life as the broth for the soup (and save the trouble of rinsing and draining). The ham hock will season the broth and the beans as they cook; you won’t need additional salt once they are done. Instead of cooking the kale and carrots in the soup, give them a quick sauté and stir them in at the end so they retain their vibrancy.
Think of this dish as classic baked beans turned all the way up to 11—sweet, smoky, and saucy, with extra richness from the slow-simmered beans. The starchiness from the cooked beans will help bind the casserole. Curry powder adds a hint of earthiness, but you can leave it out for a more straightforward flavor.
Use this recipe as a template. You can change up the aromatics (try adding a dried chile or piece of smoked bacon). Remember to cool and store the beans in their cooking liquid so they retain their flavor and texture. See our master method for creating the perfect pot of beans, as well as suggested simmering times.
Add extra flavor to baked Great Northern beans with dry-cured Spanish chorizo, a type of smoked sausage with a deep red color. Be sure to use firm, dry-cured Spanish chorizo and not soft, raw Mexican chorizo for this recipe.
9 of 21Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Cuban Black Bean Soup
Inspired by his Cuban mother's black bean soup, Chef Douglas Rodriguez of DeLaCosta restaurant in Chicago developed the robust flavor in this recipe for people who didn't have money to spend on meat for stock. Here we use both fresh and dried oregano because each imparts a different flavor to the final dish.
10 of 21Photo: Randy Mayor
Anasazi and Black Bean Chili
Slightly sweet red and white Anasazis contrast with robust black beans in flavor and color. You can substitute pintos for the Anasazi beans, if you prefer.
11 of 21Photo: Francesco Tonelli
Farfalle with Fava Beans, Morel Mushrooms, and Mascarpone
The morel mushrooms give this healthy dish and earthy undertone. You can also use shiitake mushrooms and edamame, good year-round alternatives to morels and fava beans.
12 of 21Photo: Randy Mayor
Sweet and Spicy Baked Beans
Just one serving of this side goes a long way toward helping you reach your daily fiber goal. To quick-soak the beans, cover with water to 2 inches above beans; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Then continue the recipe with preheating the oven.
13 of 21Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Pork Roast with White Beans and Cranberries
This rich dish balances sweet and tart flavors from the cranberries with savory notes from the pork and sage. Garnish each serving with a fresh sage sprig.
14 of 21Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Mexican Ham and Bean Soup
This filling soup makes good use of leftover ham. Pair with fresh bread for a complete meal.
15 of 21Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Seattle Black Beans
Using broth to cook the beans instead of water makes them that much more savory. Seasoned with cumin and paired with chopped veggies make this an easy, healthy side dish.
16 of 21Photo: Jim Bathie
Tiny French Beans with Smoked Sausage
Find flageolets, tiny French kidney beans, in specialty food stores or online.
17 of 21Photo: Lee Harrelson
Ham and Bean Soup
This ham and bean soup recipe gets great flavor from a smoked ham hock, fresh vegetables, and fresh herbs. Starting with a package of dried bean soup mix instead of using canned beans helps keep the sodium in check.
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Collard Greens with Lima Beans and Smoked Turkey
This one-pot meal can be made up to three days ahead and refrigerated.
19 of 21Photo: Randy Mayor
White Beans with Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto
Add a green salad and crusty bread to this simple rustic dish for a satisfying supper. Simmer the beans on the stovetop if they're still not tender after cooking under pressure for 12 minutes.
20 of 21Photo: Randy Mayor
Hearty Navy Bean Soup
Simmer dried navy beans with ham hocks, carrot, and onion for a hearty and nutrient-packed main dish soup.
21 of 21Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Lamb Shanks on Cannellini Beans
Cooking the beans and lamb at the same time frees you to work on an appetizer or dessert.