I’m a bean lover. I was enjoying beans when I was in my mother’s womb. By the time I was born, I was in love with black beans. Seriously, a true story. My mother would run cooked black beans through the food processor and make a light soup of sorts, edible and smooth enough for a three-month-old to take down. To this day, my mother’s black beans are my favorite, and fortunately for me, I’ve almost mastered cooking them. There’s still some work to do, but my mother says I’ll have to be married for many years and have five hungry kids to feed before I can really have it down pat.
I grew to love beans in any variety as I got older. And when I got into the professional food scene and started understanding the chemistry and real benefits of different foods, I fell in love with beans all over, learning to embrace ones I had never so much as smiled at. Between the high fiber levels, the admirable protein content, and the presence of complex carbs, I’ve been increasingly committed to eating more varieties of beans (even lima beans, which I loathe).
In working to eat more beans, I looked for amazing bean recipes which would be super-healthy and mostly easy, but would also pack in the fiber and protein I’m looking for. Here are some of my favorite discoveries:
This salad has changed my mind about anything coming close to looking or tasting like lima beans. I immediately loved the black-eyed peas in it, but the fava beans took some woo-sahing to understand. At first I felt the salad was gorgeous and delicious without them. But the contrast of the two beans is lovely and ups the health value, which makes it worth trying! Oh, and the mackerel just takes this to another level.
Lentils come in over 50 varieties and are eaten in many countries covering different continents, especially Asia. In Cuba, where I’m from, we typically enjoy them over white rice (like most of our beans). I don’t eat them enough but have recently stocked up on at least five different types to further explore their goodness. This southern-inspired soup is 100% vegetarian and add some nicely-leveled heat to your palate.
Green string beans have always been a favorite of mine both to cook and to eat. They’re probably the beans I’ve experimented with the most. They’re just so versatile. And the beauty of these pod-seed beans is that they really don’t require much. Like in this dish where they’re steamed and drizzled with horseradish vinaigrette. A double whammy here if you ask me—fiber and your sinuses will clear up!
I really wish I could take credit for the most amazingly simple red bean salad you’ll ever make. I’ll pay you if you don’t think it’s true! A friend made it for private dinner party I hosted some years ago and I’ve addicted to it since. The kidney bean makes up 85% the fresh, colorful salad. Please just don’t judge that we used canned beans.
The aforementioned kidney bean salad is so beloved, I wanted to create my own version, but completely different and a bit more complex. The beans carry the weight of this lovely year-round salad, but the manchego cheese and fennel sprigs elevate it by several echelons. It’s the perfect salad to serve as an appetizer or a superbly robust and filling dinner plate. Either way, you won’t go wrong.
Bren is a Latin-fusion private chef and avid world traveler, always looking for the next best adventure. As a writer, she documents her own food experiences with her camera and notepad and then shares on her blog,Flanboyant Eats.You can also check out her lifestyle and fashion expertise on her blog B So Chic!