All throughout January we’re bringing you 30 Days, 30 Ways to Good Health, a series of easy strategies for overall wellness (and because we love food, it’s focuses on the foods and cooking techniques to add into your life instead of what to take away.) Read on for our latest eat well strategy: bring on the beans.
Dried beans make the perfect pantry staple: they are economical and easy to store, and they pack a nutritional punch, adding protein to vegetarian and meat dishes alike. For the most flavor, buy dried beans from markets that have high turnover, and try different varieties of heirloom beans. Click to try all of our heirloom bean recipes, and find more tips for soaking, simmering and serving dried beans–or check out the recipes below.
|Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
In this recipe sweet potatoes and black beans make a great combination in a hearty chili that will keep you warm on the coldest of days. Serve with your choice of sliced green onions, chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream and grated cheddar cheese, then let your guests help themselves.
|Sweet Potato and Pinto Bean Enchiladas
There’s nothing better than a batch of enchiladas to feed a crowd, especially when they’re packed with superfoods. Carotenoids, which give sweet potatoes their orange hue, work double-time to stabilize blood sugar and aid metabolism. Tangy tomatillos are charred and mixed with fiber-rich pinto beans in this all-vegetable filling.
|Pebble Bean Chili
These heirloom beans are named for their rich, variegated colors and intricate markings, which evoke the natural beauty of river pebbles. Delicately flavored and tender in texture, they’re delicious in homemade chili.
|Cannellini Bean, Fennel and Shrimp Salad
The combination of beans and fennel makes this salad a superior source of fiber. Canned cannellini beans may be substituted for the dried beans. Use 2 cans (each 15 oz.); drain the beans well, rinse, then drain well again before combining with the other ingredients. Garnish each salad, if desired, with a lemon wedge.
|Snow Cap Beans with Lemon and Sage
Named for snow-crested mountains, snow cap beans are prized for their beautiful markings, which retain their rich colors even after cooking. The beans have a hearty flavor and silky-smooth texture similar to potatoes.
|Spicy Sauteed Kale and Chickpeas
Dinosaur kale, also known as cavolo nero or Lacinato kale, has slender, blue-green crimped leaves and a mild cabbagelike taste. Here, it is sautéed with chickpeas to make a hearty side dish, with just a touch of chili heat.
|Cranberry Bean, Broccoli Rabe and Bacon Salad
Look for fresh cranberry beans in the pod at farmers’ markets during the fall. The creamy-textured, nutty-flavored beans pair beautifully with autumn greens. Broccoli rabe has nicely jagged leaves for sautéed salads, but you could easily substitute kale or chard.
|Calamari and White Bean Salad
As you sit down to eat this salad, it won’t be hard to imagine you are in coastal Italy, sipping a glass of crisp vino bianco while enjoying a mix of fresh calamari, velvety white beans and sweet roasted peppers tossed in a citrus-and-garlic dressing.
|White Bean and Ham Soup with Corn Bread Croutons
To save time, purchase already-made corn bread. Make sure your pan is really hot when you add the corn bread cubes to ensure they get a nice golden sear (but work fast so the butter doesn’t burn). Pass extra croutons at the table.
Soaking dried beans softens them and helps to ensure even, thorough cooking. Once the beans come to a boil, skim off the foam that rises to the top and reduce the heat so the water is simmering. Slow cooking is essential because boiling the beans will cause their skins to split.
|Chipotle-Black Bean Dip
Tortilla chips and ice-cold beer are the perfect accompaniments for this flavorful dip, which takes its cue from the American Southwest. The recipe calls for chipotle chilies in adobo sauce; these dried, smoked jalapeños are sold in cans, packed in an oniony tomato mixture.
|Turkey and Black Turtle Bean Chili
Our hearty chili combines ground turkey with black turtle beans, a mildly flavored variety that pairs exceptionally well with the bold seasonings used here. Garnish each serving with cheddar cheese, sour cream and green onions to tame the heat.
|Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Salsa
These satisfying vegetarian tacos are seasoned with fennel seeds, which lend the anise-like taste of the avocado leaves used to flavor beans in Mexico. If you like, make a double batch of the salsa and serve it with chips to start off the meal.