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Best dried-bean cookbook?

My sister-in-law wants to eat more beans - black beans, fava beans, kidney beans, lentils, white beans... Any dried bean (aka pulse) will do.

I'd like to give her a good bean cookbook for Christmas. Her tastes run to classic middle-American / traditional cooking, and she doesn't like spicy food, so a mostly "world cuisine" book wouldn't work for her. But she loves hummos, so some adventurousness would work.

Any ideas?

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  1. Fagioli by Judith Barrett is a lovely bean book. Not spicy.

    1. I like the rancho gordo one, and a gift cert from there.

      1. This book has been recommended by quite a few CH-ers and I have it sitting in my amazon wish list. Since I haven't purchased it, I can't vouch for it of course, but I only add things to the wish list when the "cred" of the recommender is pretty amazing:


        1. Bean by Bean: Crescent Dragonwagon.

          Sundays at Moosewood has quite a few as well.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Westy

            That makes two votes for Bean by Bean.

            1. re: Westy

              Love Bean by Bean. And, you never tire of smiling at the author's name.

              1. re: tcamp

                Her other books are great as well.

                1. re: tcamp

                  I especially love the name! My middle/high school mascot was the Dragons, and the school owned a beat up old station wagon that the gifted kids used for field trips (as there were too few of us to warrant even a short bus), and it was lovingly called the Dragon Wagon.

                  My brother told me last night that it has been retired. Sad day.

                  1. re: Westy

                    Here's my vote for Bean by Bean/Crescent Dragonwagon.
                    Plus, she's an engaging writer!

                    1. re: Westy

                      Make this another vote for her - Cresent Dragonwagon!!

                      need to hear more??


                      WBUR Boston public radio, Tom Ashbrook talking beans for an hour, mostly with Cresent, her own self. She's wonderful and will convince anybody of the wonderfulness of beans and how to cook them right.

                      You will buy the book (and anything else by her) and be glad you did. My favorite is her book on cornbread:
                      The Cornbread Gospels.

                    2. Andrea Chesman's 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains is a good basic cookbook.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Tam38

                        I just got Chessman's "Recipes from the Root Cellar" And I Love reading it. Making my first recipe tomorrow. If your recommendation is similar to my book, it must be terrific.

                      2. Thanks for the ideas! "Bean by Bean" looks perfect for my sister-in-law. The others looked a bit too fancy for her style of cooking, but would be just right for me, so I've put them on my own wishlist. Yum - more bean dishes in my future!

                        1. "Spilling the Beans", a splurchase from Costco last summer,
                          has a wonderful variety of recipes including a neat method of candying red lentils to use like graham cracker crumbs and as a crunchy topping on desserts.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: greygarious

                            I saw "Spilling the Beans..." as I was shopping and bought it for myself. It looks great! I hadn't noticed the candied lentils, but was attracted by the desserts with white beans.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              I love the phrase splurchase!

                              Have you tried the candied red lentils? It sounds so intriguing.

                            2. When she wants to graduate to a bit more adventurous cuisine, my go-to bean cookbook is the older Bean Harvest Cookbook, by Ashley Miller. Otherwise, I'll join the bandwagon in recommending Dragonwagon's Bean by Bean as probably the best starter "Americanish" bean cookbook.

                              1. I really like The Great Vegan Bean Book. Not spicy, mostly simple bean-based recipes you can make on a weeknight. She also highlights more exotic beans you can buy through Rancho Gordo (and also mentions substitutes).

                                For those averse to vegan beans, I also recommend Pulse. I actually love the name of this book but it can be hard to locate with such a generic name (it is ISBN 1862059861). I think meat and veg-centric eaters would appreciate this book with its flavourful combinations of recipes.

                                I actually have Bean-by-Bean as well, but her recipes have a bit more miss than hit for me.