Here are 5 quick & easy ways to conjure up a nourishing meal from a 15 oz. can of beans. Always drain & rinse beans before starting. Pay attention to whether the canning liquid was salted or not - either way, be sure to season them until they taste great to you! Any bean dish will benefit from being topped with a dollop of your favorite hot sauce, a fried egg or some plain or Greek yogurt.
Whip up a warm salad: Place 3 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon mustard & 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey in a medium saucepan. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of olive oil and season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Warm gently on the stove. Add the beans and, when hot, toss in a handful (or several!) of greens, such as arugula or spinach. Top with some chopped roasted nuts. Other things you could add – shaved fennel, cherry tomatoes, or minced anchovies .
Simmer a soup: Chop a small onion, a carrot, and a stick of celery. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the chopped vegetables and ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and cook over a gentle heat until softened. Add 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add some chopped kale or chard and the beans. Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make a mash: Warm ¼ cup of olive oil in a pan. Add 1 peeled and smashed clove of garlic, a strip of lemon zest and a sprig of rosemary or thyme. Turn off the heat, and allow to sit for 10 minutes to infuse. Remove and reserve the rosemary or thyme and the lemon zest. Add the drained beans to the oil and mash with a fork until slightly creamy. Season to taste (remember: some canned beans have added salt). Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Top with the sprig of thyme or rosemary, and serve. To make them extra delicious, add some grated parmesan or other cheese of your choice. Makes an excellent dip!
Go for a gratin: Heat your oven to 375ºF. Meanwhile, sauté ½ cup finely chopped onion or leek, along with a large pinch of salt, in 2 tablespoons olive oil until softened. Add ½ teaspoon paprika and cook for a minute or two. Add the beans and just enough chicken stock or water to cover them. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs (or a teaspoon of dried herbs, such as herbes de Provence). If you have sun-dried tomatoes in your pantry, mince a couple of tablespoons and toss them in. Dried mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water and then chopped, would be a great addition, too. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and top with some Panko breadcrumbs, mixed with a little grated Parmesan cheese and drizzled with olive oil. Bake in the hot oven until golden and bubbling.
Cook up a curry: Sauté ½ cup finely chopped onion or leek in 2 tablespoons olive oil until soft and translucent. Add 2 cloves minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger, and cook just until the garlic is fragrant. Add 1 tablespoon curry powder and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add 1 can coconut milk, 1 tablespoon tomato puree and a little water if necessary, along with ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro if you have it. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with basmati rice.