Friday, April 6, 2012

How to cook and love beans

We eat a lot of beans! I'm a vegetarian and a cheapskate so this makes sense, right? One of my son's friends was over to play and he told my son, "I don't like beans". My son replied, "Then you're not gonna want to eat dinner at our house."

Yep, we are usually having some kind of bean dish for dinner. Not every day, but most days.

I grew up on a beef farm and the only kind of beans we ever had growing up were pinto beans. So, when my extended family hears that we eat beans as our main protein source, they all envision that bowl of plain-jane beans my Grammy used to make.

Although we do eat pinto beans, we also eat several other kinds of beans. Here are beans we keep on hand (listed in order of preference.) We buy them by the 25 lb bag as part of our bulk food order.
1. Pinto Beans
2. Green lentils
3. Black beans (These are the cheapest organic bean I buy at $18 for 25 lbs)
4. Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans
5. Black eyed peas

Now, what do I do with all those beans? Here are links to my favorite recipes.

Chickpea Tacos
Black bean burgers are a favorite at my house.

Chickpea Cutlets

Black bean burgers

Sloppy Lous

Lentil Loaf


Hoppin' John

Syrian Lentil Soup (I use green lentils.)

I also make quite a few things that I don't have recipes for--I just kind-of throw them together. (If these intrigue you, use them as meal ideas and search the internet for a version of the recipe that appeals to you.)

Black bean soup

Chili (I love it with corn!)

Lentils cooked with homemade taco seasoning to use as a filling for tacos or burritos. I make all our tortillas from this recipe.

Rice, cheese (or nutritional yeast sauce) and pinto bean burritos (These are my kid's favorite.) This recipe is so simple you don't even need to look it up. It really is just what the ingredients say.

We eat a lot of homemade re-fried beans (made from pinto beans) and homemade hummus (make from chickpeas)--as dips, on sandwiches, on pizzas, with tortillas, carrots, pita bread, you name it. My kids REALLY love re-fried beans.

We also eat something I call burrito bowls to use up bean leftovers. I make rice and set out the leftover beans along with cheese, salad, sour cream, veggies, or whatever else we have on hand. Everyone then puts together their own burrito bowl from the available options. (I find my kids eat best when they have creative control.)

Macaroni and cheese with pinto beans. I love this--especially with some diced tomatoes thrown in!

Beans and Potatoes. Sometimes we eat this cooked crock-pot style where I just throw in black or pinto beans with chopped potatoes, onions, some spices, and tomato sauce. My husband's favorite way of eating beans and potatoes is to have oven baked potatoes with black beans ladled over the top.

Of course, this isn't all the recipes I use, but these are my regulars.  Hopefully, it helps you to see how many different ways one family can enjoy beans!

A couple other things about beans:

  • I usually cook my beans either in the crock-pot or on the wood stove (in the winter). I soak them overnight first, rinse them, and cook double the amount I am going to need. I then freeze half of the beans so I have a convenient meal starter for another day when I am a hurry. 
  • If you are new to beans, I recommend starting with black beans, pinto beans and chickpeas. Any of these beans go well with rice. Lentils and pintos make a good meat substitute. We seem to like chickpeas most in the summer. Black beans make amazing burgers, dips and soups.
  •  Liquid smoke works wonders if you want to give beans a savory or meaty flavor. It is certainly cheaper than actual meat. Just splash a few drops into your pot o' beans!
  •  Cooking with beans instead of meat can call for spices you may not have on hand. At first it can be overwhelming --I know that's how I felt when I started cooking with beans. To get started, I just picked up one new spice at the store each week.
So, how often does your family eat beans? What's your favorite bean dish? Why do you think you don't eat more beans?


  1. I love this! Thanks for all the wonderful bean-rific ideas!

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