Beans (Part 2) How to Make Them Delicious
In the first part of this series, I talked about how to cook beans to make them more digestible. I think you’ll also find that cooking them in the dry-soak-simmer manner (with any one of the 3 secret ingredients!) makes them far more tender and even in texture as well.
Now, I’m going to give you strategies to make them delicious! And for those of you who are thinking, “nope, nothing will make me like beans” (a little stubborn are we?) stick with me here.
A wonderful characteristic of beans is their ability to soak up flavor. They are relatively neutral on their own which allows them to work in dishes from sweet to savory. Though the slight earthy taste to beans means they really need an aromatic to provide balance.
Tip #1: Add Aromatics
When the beans are simmering on the stove, take the opportunity to add in whole garlic cloves, a whole onion cut in half, and some citrus to brighten and slightly sweeten the beans. Orange works wonders. Just cut an orange in half, add it’s juice to the simmering beans along with the peel. By adding citrus peel, you’re also adding citrus bioflavonoids!
Tip #2: Make a patty
Veggie burgers are pretty ubiquitous and I’ve tried my fair share of them. Nothing worse then ordering a veggie burger at a restaurant and getting a limp, soggy patty that can’t stay in a bun. If that’s been your experience with veggie burgers than you need to try make your own. I’ve tried a lot of recipes and these are my favorites. Get creative with the spices though! Think of the grain/bean/egg ingredients as a blank canvas you can paint flavor onto. Top with some fermented pickles, sauerkraut or a flavorful slaw and you really have something special. Note: make veggie burgers in bulk and freeze them between layers of parchment paper. They make great salad toppers!
2. Artichoke Chickpea Patties with Chashew Thyme Cream (vegan, gluten-free)
Tip #3: Make a dip
Beans are the perfect ingredient to make dip because of their creamy, smooth texture. Plus, as I mentioned, they are pretty much a blank canvas for flavor depending on what spices you use.
I totally encourage you to just get out the blender and try some combos yourself, tasting as you go. It is my favorite way to cook (and to learn!). Sometimes it is a disaster but most of the time I end up with something that is flavored to my taste. Just start with beans (black beans, white beans, chickpeas all work well) + add an acid to give it some tang (apple cider vinegar, lemon or lime juice) + add spices (maybe start with a mexican-style spice blend or keep it simple with just some cumin, salt and pepper). From there you might consider blending in garlic clove and maybe some additional olive oil to thin the dip. Here is a good example of this type of dip.
If you’re not so into the blended-bean thing, you might try making plaki. Plaki is a dish made often in Greece, Turkey and Armenia where giant white beans are stewed with vegetables and spices and served at room temperature as a mezze. It is served with bread which is used to scoop it up. The giant white beans are fun and delicious but this works with many types of beans.
Tip #4: Add a flavorizer
Pictured above is a simple, 3 bean salad that can be made in a big batch and used to top salads or as a protein and fiber-packed snack. The trick is adding a flavorizer (dressing) that is to your taste. Vinaigrettes work great for bean salads. The basic ratio for any vinaigrette is 3 parts oil and one part vinegar. From there you can mix in a little mustard powder or dijon mustard, chopped garlic, some chopped herbs like tarragon, thyme, parsely, oregano, basic. etc., a bit of honey or maple syrup, some citrus zest/juice, or shallot. In the image pictured above, I made a simple honey-dijon vinaigrette with olive oil, dijon mustard, rice vinegar and honey. Taste as you go and adjust as needed. By the way, you can make a large jar of dressing to keep in your fridge and use it to add flavor to veggies or to marinate meat. Making your own dressing with ALWAYS be healthier (and cheaper) than anything you’ll find in a bottle at the store.
Ok! There you have it folks. So many delicious ways to eat beans. Will you try any of these?