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In the Kitchen: Creative ways to use beans

Canned or dried beans are highly underrated. Both are super inexpensive, nutritious, versatile and delicious. 

High in complex carbohydrates, beans are packed with protein and are a good source of the B vitamin folate as well as iron. A scant one-half cup of kidney beans has 7.5 grams of dietary fiber and 65 mcg of folate. Half a cup of black beans contains 129 micrograms of folate. Chickpeas have a whopping 191 micrograms of folate per half a cup. Pinto beans have 147 micrograms of folate and Navy beans weigh in at 128 micrograms of folate. If you eat beans with grains, they provide you with a “complete” protein.

 If using canned beans, rinse and drain them before proceeding with the recipe. Dried beans are not difficult to cook and are even less expensive than canned, but you do need to rinse and sort them, soak them overnight and then allow a few hours to cook them. If you think beans are boring, here are some recipes to highlight their versatility and promise to make you a bean-lover.


Black bean, corn and avocado salad

 2 cups drained and rinsed canned black beans

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1/2 cup onion, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

½ teaspoon hot sauce

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 avocado, seeded and cut into small cubes


In a bowl, combine beans, corn kernels and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Add olive oil, cilantro, hot sauce, red wine vinegar and lime juice, stirring to combine. Thirty minutes before serving, add cubed avocados and stir.

 If you cook dried pinto beans, reserve the cooking liquid and use it in place of the water.

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Savory pinto beans

4 cups cooked pinto beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

3 slices Canadian bacon, finely diced

1/3 cup onion, finely minced

1/3 cup red bell pepper, seeded and finely minced

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Dash of hot sauce (more to taste)

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped


Reserve 2/3 cups of the cooked beans and set aside. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, Canadian bacon, onion, red bell pepper, and jalapeno and cook until vegetables are done, about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, chili powder and hot sauce. Stir in the beans and 2 cups water or reserved cooking liquid. In a bowl, using a potato masher, mash the reserved 2/3 cup of beans and then add them to the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer, adding more water if beans seem dry. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.

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Humble soup

 1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 onion, minced

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 cups chopped cabbage

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups cooked red kidney beans

3-4 cups cooked rice


Add olive oil to large stockpot and heat over medium-high heat. Add Italian sausage and cook until cooked through. Add garlic and onions and cook until softened, about eight minutes. Add carrots, cabbage, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, potatoes, chicken stock, and kidney beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes or so until all vegetables are tender. Serve over rice.