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Beans (kidney, black, pinto, etc.) - keeping them interesting

After a second bout of diverticulitis I am MUCH more diligent to increase fiber in my diet. Almost every day starts with Fiber One cereal with low sugar yogurt. I'd like to eat a serving or two of beans each day, but they get so boring even though the Bush Brothers and Duke have so many varieties http://www.bushbeans.com/products/oth... The pantry usually holds some Camellia brand dry beans for Red Beans & Rice.

I really enjoyed some canned black beans after I drained then, chopped jalapeno, onion & cilantro in the food processor, and combined with balsamic, salt & pepper. I guess I am looking particularly for bean salad ideas but open to all suggestions.

For the next few months I've got plenty of fresh rosemary, thyme, marjoram, dill & chives!

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  1. First of all, good for you for addressing this issue with your diet. That's the way to go about it. If sugar's a concern, you should take a good look at Fiber One products and most baked beans, though -- they are almost candy-like. Maybe try to switch to the Aspartame-sweetened All-Bran cereals, or some sugar-free varieties.

    On to beans. Canned beans are a staple for me, partly because we just can't eat bigger batches cooked from dried before they go bad.

    The way you approached the black beans is a good one, and can be adapted to practically any other bean and/or seasoning, herb and acid. Try mixing it up with citrus juices, different vinegars, and any different kind of vegetable. I find salads most enjoyable when the vegetables are cut to roughly the same size as the beans themselves.

    One of my go-to lunches is white beans with chunked canned tuna, celery (a few leaves included), white onion, capers, olive oil and lemon juice. An old standby, but with good reason.

    I also like a semi-mashed spread with garbanzos, onion, bell pepper and olive oil. It sounds too simple, but it's not. Definitely my favorite holdover from my hippie vegetarian years.

    You should also experiment with bean patties and dips. For patties, drain and mash roughly, then bind with some egg, flour or a little of the reserved bean liquid. Any vegetable, herb or spice you like will work here. No rules.

    And pureed dips are similarly open-ended. While I can't stand black eyed peas on their own, they're one of my favorite purees, spiked with fresh lime juice and parsley, maybe a little sesame oil or peanut or other nut butter.

    Also remember when you serve them cold they need more seasoning than when warm.

    5 Replies
    1. re: dmd_kc

      dmd, you can always freeze beans after you've cooked up a pot...just letting you know...that way, you can pull out a packet of them when you want to use them and they won't go bad.
      AreBe, others have also suggested lentils...really great, no soaking, they cook pretty quickly and really are a powerhouse of nutrition and fiber. Here's a very tasty lentil salad that requires minimal ingredients and probably would be very nice with some of your rosemary...the balsamic vinagrette is perfect with it...and I never use radicchio...always romaine...but you could use any lettuce you prefer:


      1. re: dmd_kc

        Most one pound bags of dried beans contain about 3 cups. No law says you have to cook them all at once (though you can freeze them either after soaking or fully cooking if you do). A cup of dried beans yields around 2 cups cooked - only a bit more than a standard can contains, for less money and salt.

        1. re: greygarious

          I know -- I should cook smaller batches or freeze them. But I know myself. I talk myself out of cooking the half bag all the time (too much work, I say -- stupid). And I freeze them all the time, but never end up thawing and eating them.

          Beans and lasagna are two foods I frequently freeze and later pitch after they've become freezer-burnt. My own quirk.

          1. re: dmd_kc

            LOL! I've become quite skillful in my underhand slow freezer pitch. My husband vaccuum packs everything and makes me lable & date with a Sharpie. I still end up pitching stuff, but it's more painful to know it really is/was delicious Guiness braised shortribs from a year ago. You'd think I'd learn. But this IS the year I cook that extra Thanksgivig turkey on the grill...or not.

            1. re: ajcraig

              My fridge's freezer is very basic - just one wire rack shelf, and two rows in the door. I found that getting some shallow wire baskets for the area under the shelf, and a couple of deeper ones for the larger area above, helps TREMENDOUSLY. As much as possible, I assign them contents: vegetables go in one, fruit another, meat, frozen meal portions. I can slide out a basket to easily see what I've got, and am no longer "losing" containers in the rear until the contents are ruined. You can buy all sorts of wire and plastic baskets at pharmacy chains and office supply stores.

      2. As a simple & quick accompaniment to grilled sausages (anything from hot dogs to exotics), I like to season canned black beans with lots of fresh-ground black pepper and cumin (about 1/2 to 1 tsp of each per can) and cook it down until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Optional is to top the result with shredded cheddar or jack cheese.

        1. I, too, had diverticulitis. That was a few years ago and the following year I had an unrelated partial bowel obstruction (due to an adhesion from cancer surgery). And for a trifecta, I am borderline diabetic. So fiber is REALLY important for me. Fortunately, I love beans and have been eating them just about daily for several years now. I make a big pot of soup every week, using lentils, split peas, or a cup of dried beans. Regardless of the kind of soup, it gets beans in addition to the other ingredients. Small white ones in Manhattan clam chowder, for instance. I now use dry beans exclusively, since they are cheaper and taste better. I have tried the high-end online sources (Rancho Gordo and others) but do not find a significant difference in taste/quality from the way cheaper supermarket beans.

          I endorse Cook's Illustrated's recommendation to soak the beans in salted water but cook them in plain. I also like to add soy or teriyaki sauce to the soaking liquid, which adds some flavor. With beans cooked this way, I add them to tossed salads. My favorite, though, is to cook them plain and when they are hot, pour heated-up bread-and-butter pickle juice over them, and add thinly-sliced onion. This is a tasty side dish, room temp or chilled.

          I have seen brownie recipes that include canned black beans, and on Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, Doc Willoughby used canned black bean SOUP in the sauce for Steak Diane.

          2 Replies
          1. re: greygarious

            Another post just reminded me that I liked the results when I subbed cooked lentils for a quarter of the beef when making meatballs/meatloaf. I'm not sure I'd have tasted a difference, and the texture was more tender and smooth. You could do this with any cooked bean if you mash/puree them first.

            1. re: greygarious

              Yes, lentils are so versatile! Don't neglect them just because they aren't actually called beans. Dal is one of my favorite cheap and relatively quick meals. (There are a gajillion different types of dal, too many to go into here but there are recipes everywhere.) I also make a more Western-style lentil soup. Start by sweating some diced carrot, celery, and onion with some garlic, thyme, and black pepper. If I've got a leftover ham bone or ham hock, I sweat the vegetables and herbs in olive oil. If I don't, I use diced bacon instead and use the fat from the bacon. Then add the lentils and some water or stock, the ham bone/hock, if you're using that, and a couple bay leaves and simmer it until the lentils are done. You can use basically the same recipe for a split pea soup, except then I add a spoonful of good mustard and just a little drizzle of maple syrup.

              I also make kind of a Moroccan-stype chickpea stew with canned chickpeas and tomatoes. Sweat some diced onion and garlic in olive oil with ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and turmeric. Add a can of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes, some chopped parsley, a couple diced carrots, a few whole cloves, and some fresh squeezed lemon juice. Simmer until the carrots are nearly done, then add a can of chickpeas and simmer another few minutes. Serve over couscous. Tasty, quick and low-labor and also chock full of nutrients and fiber!

          2. I agree with greygarious WRT dried beans. In the past I always a had a few cans of various beans in the pantry for emergencies, but I found a fast and easy way to cook beans in the slow cooker. Plus I didn't like all the talk about BPA lining canned foods. After rinsing and sorting the beans are soaked over night in the SC insert.. just enough water to cover. In the morning the beans are drained and rinsed, leaving the beans in the insert. Place insert in the SC. Add chopped onion and garlic and any other seasoning you want: chili powder. dry oregano. etc. (or nothing) I add salt at the end. Add water to cover by about an inch or two. Cover and cook on low for 6 - 7 hours. You now have the basis of several dishes. What you can't or don't want to use up within several days can be frozen with the liquid. I make pinto beans. Jacob's cattle, kidney, cannellini, black, lentils.... We love them all.

            1. I love that 13 or 15 bean soup (package in a bag), although I make mine more thicker to put on rice like a red, beans and rice. I add veggies too and sometimes a nice healthy sausage. I throw everything in the crockpot before leaving in the morning, dinner's done when I get home.

              I lately have been adding a can of beans to my salads, particularly love a panzanella salad or fattoush with beans. I doctored up a store bought 3 bean salad by adding chick peas, kidney beans, corn and roasted peppers.

              1. Don't forget lentils. They are easier to cook than dried beans because they don't require soaking. I started using lentils instead of potatoes or noodles in most homemade soups and have really enjoyed them.

                2 Replies
                1. re: John E.

                  After years of soaking dried beans but never being totally happy with my results, I learned to cook dried beans from my Mexican mother-in-law. Mexicans never soak their dried beans. I used to be a soaker but have since been converted as it's easier and I like them better. Aside from a little increase in cooking time, I've noticed better flavour and colour and no change in digestibility.

                  I now use the cooking liquid as a base for soups and sometimes to cook rice in.

                  1. re: basileater

                    "I used to be a soaker"
                    Reminds me of the SNL skit "cork soakers". Pretty hilarious!

                2. Two of my favorite bean salads are the white bean and tuna described above by dmd_kc, but I also add lots of chopped parsley to it, or sometimes fresh dill. My other favorite is a drained can of black beans mixed with chopped onion, red and/or green pepper, avocado, olive oil and lemon juice, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin.

                  For a cheater's version of a quick black bean soup, heat a can of black beans with its juice, add some salsa from a jar (medium,hot, any way you like it), season with some cumin, mash it to the texture you prefer, and thin with a little chicken or veggie broth. Put a dollop of sour cream or yogurt on top, and you're in business.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Missyme

                    Add corn to your black bean salad recipe, and you have my favorite. I like lime juice and chopped tomato in it, also. Cilantro too.

                    1. re: sarahNC

                      Reminds me of generically named Texas Caviar:

                      2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained 

                      1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained 

                      1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained (Ro-Tel)
2 cups chopped red bell pepper 

                      1/2 cup chopped fresh jalapeno peppers
1/2 cup chopped onion 

                      1 (8-ounce) bottle Italian dressing 

                      1 (4-ounce) jar chopped pimentos, drained

                      In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir gently to combine.
                      Refrigerate overnight.

                      Serve with corn chips.

                  2. >Canned beans are a staple for me, partly because we just can't eat bigger batches cooked from dried before they go bad.

                    I usually cook a whole packet of dried, then freeze the leftovers in one or two cup portions in ziplocs.

                    some ideas: black beans mixed with corn, red bell, cilantro, jalapeno and lime for a salad. Add chili powder and cumin.

                    Frijoles an an entree: I never soak dried beans. Boil dry pintos with a ham hock, some bacon slab, or even a turkey leg (or skip the meat) and a chopped onion (saute the onion first if not using meat). usually 1-2 hours, until nearly done. add salt and boil 30 minutes more. add more onion, cilantro, and just a spoon or two of tequila. eat on their own or with rice. can top with cheese.

                    Make an Indian curry with kidney beans instead of meat or garbanzos and eat with rice.

                    Make a faux cassoulet. Simmer cooked white beans with tomato, rosemary, and thyme. add sausage, some bacon. I follow loosely a recipe from fine cooking, I think.

                    make refried beans by mashing your cooked pintos while they reheat (in cooking liquid if you have it). eat as is, or with cheese, or as part of a taco.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cocktailhour

                      I love tomatoes with black-eyed peas, but didn't I read (on this board) and then research that adding tomatoes will toughen beans (during cooking). So you need to add them when the beans are nearly cooked through.

                    2. I still remember a dinner with friends where the cook started it with black bean soup cooked with ham and laced with what she said was wine, but might have been sherry.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: DonShirer

                        I do too, I love sherry in my black beans. I so happy I'm having black beans tomorrow!

                      2. Growing up in Red Bean and Rice country, I love most all beans. Growing up in Red Bean and Rice country, my preferred dried bean of choice is Camellia which cooks to a tender, creamy goodness. But the "advertisement" aside, here is a great list of their recipes for various beans:

                        I make red beans (kidneys) and rice often and pretty much do the same as their recipe, adding thyme and omitting parsley. I've NEVER included Bay nor can I say I know anyone who has. When I can find it, I love to use Tasso ham and always have a bottle Tabasco or other LA hot sauce on the side.

                        And don't forget, given they time they take to cook, make more than you need. They freeze well, though due to water absorption and starch content, you'll most likely need to add additional water or stock when reheating.

                        1. I like greek style lima beans in tomato sauce (or in a seasoned garlic sauce). They have them in a can, something like this
                          or you can make 'em yourself.

                          1. I don't think I read a mention of edamame succotash, here is a recipe:
                            This garbanzo salad is really good - I use whatever bell peppers I have on hand, but have used spinach instead with great results:
                            Here is a Martha Stewart version of the classic 3 bean salad:

                            1. I see nobody has mentioned dessert!

                              I will suggest: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/kims-m...

                              They are low fat, lower glycemic (for Greygarious sake) and they are made with black beans.

                              And what you actually asked for (here are the ones I have tried and liked. You can obv. modify them to make a fridge dump):
                              http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/blac... (a good base recipe
                              )You could also do a rice salad and dump in all sorts of beans. Use the bean as the base to decide the flavor of the salad. Do not forget to add cheese and avocado! I think the secret to making a mixed rice salad is to boil the rice in tons of water like pasta - no lid. Cook and drain and the grains are beautifully intact and not mushed together.

                              Also, go for a browse here : http://www.101cookbooks.com/index.html It is a lovely lovely lovely veggie site and I have never made something she posted that tasted ick. Lots of grains, veggies and legumes obv.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                Thanks for the brownie recipe - have you ever tried them? Dr. Oz is where I saw them but have yet to make them.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  They are not perfection, but they satisfy that sweet chocolate urge. I found that the costco Kirkland brand of egg substitute is better as a sub for egg whites. Not sure why.

                                  There was another brownie recipe there. I have not tried it, but it looked worthy.

                                  Just in case FYI: You can get agave nectar in larger/cheap portions/$ at Costco. If you have not tried it -it has a lower GI than sugar and honey. it tastes very much like honey. It is no sub sor sugar/egg chemistry when baking and you may have to adjust liquid if you use lots.

                                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                    Yes - I'd been buying it at Trader Joe's but noticed it on an end-aisle display at Costco. I think it's the same producer - the shape and label design are identical but Costco's is twice the size and of course cheaper. I think it is a little more neutral in flavor as compared to honey but I like it. I use Splenda a lot, with a tiny bit of sugar or agave - for me that's all it takes to mask Splenda's aftertaste. OT: Problem with Costco is that the aisles are unlabeled and items move all the time. For multiple medical reasons, I can't schlepp around exploring such a big store. I know they do it to force people to browse, but I for one would spend more money there if I knew what they had, and where. I will look for the egg substitute next time. Thanks much!

                              2. I've been head-over-heels with braised escarole and white beans lately.

                                Saute a little garlic in EVOO. Add a whole head or two of cleaned, chopped escarole, a pinch red pepper flakes, and some chicken broth (amount depends on how soupy you want it). Cpver and let the escarole cook down. When it's tender, add 2 cups white beans (cannelinis or similar), a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, and some parmesan cheese (or if you have a parmesan rind, add that in the beginning). You can also add pasta if you like. Simple, wholesome, gets better if it sits a day.

                                I also really like black bean salad with quinoa - add corn, red or green onion, cilantro, lime, a drizzle of EVOO, chicken if desired, black olives, avocado, etc. That's a nice summer salad for potlucks.

                                And don't forget about hummus!

                                1. I do not recall anyone mentioning split peas. Fibermania! Alton Brown does a very good split pea brown rice burger (I know - nose krinkle - but consider it). Here it is: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                                  Also - Artichokes. Very high in fiber.

                                  Also, I want to mention - rinse your canned beans well. Lots of sodium.

                                  A lady above here mentioned a quinoa salad. Yum and a half.

                                  1. Have you tried this salad yet?
                                    Black beans - canned or dried 2 cans
                                    3-4 ears of fresh corn cooked
                                    1-2 serrano chiles chopped fine
                                    1 pt grape tomatoes
                                    1 jar of pimentos or use roasted red pepper, or even fresh red pepper
                                    1/2 medium or 1 small red onion chopped fine
                                    1 cup cilantro rough chopped
                                    1-2 limes for fresh juice
                                    2-3 T olive oil
                                    Black pepper and sea salt or kosher

                                    Drain and rinse the beans, drain them well
                                    Cook the corn barely let it cool, and take it off the cobs
                                    wash the tomatoes leave then whole
                                    chop the onion fine and the rough chop the cilantro, serano * I add the seeds

                                    Mix the lemon juice and oil and whisk it well. Add salt and pepper to the dressing
                                    Toss the whole thing and let it sit in the fridge til ready to serve. Set it out and let it come to room temp before eating.
                                    There are several different variations and they're all great. This is one of those dishes that you can just eat buckets of and not feel bad. It's very refreshing, and the chiles really contribute to the overall tastiness. Use small black beans if you can find them.

                                    oh sorry! I didn't read the Texas Caviar recipe! That couldn't be closer. I always though Texas Caviar was something different with black eye peas. Well now I need to try it for certain.