Pantry staples: beans

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Pantry staples: beans

If you have a bag (or can) of beans knocking around your kitchen, there’s no excuse for a sub-par supper. Here’s what works best with which legumes.

Red kidney beans play really well with fiery Mexican flavours (how do we love thee, chilli con carne?). Because they’re so starchy, they are a great choice for frijoles refritos or refried beans: simply fry with garlic, cumin and smoked paprika, then smash.

Craving some old-school comfort? A pot of thick soup starring soaked speckled sugar beans and stewing beef spiced with ground cumin and coriander hits the spot every time.

Thick-skinned borlotti beans come from Italy, and work really well in soups and stews. If you happen to have some fresh ones on hand like editor Kate Wilson did on a recent French barge trip, slowly cook them with tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs and olive oil until deliciously saucy.

While it’s hard to beat dipping edamame pods into soya sauce and squeezing out the plump, bright green beans with our teeth, they also go well in a salad with fresh avo, spring onions and fresh coriander, tossed in a vinaigrette. Bonus: they’re now available in Woolies’ freezers.

Let’s just call cannellini beans can-do beans, shall we? Blitz the tiny, buttery pulses with a garlic clove and drizzle of tahini for the best-ever dip; toss with a can of drained tuna, chopped red onion, parsley and lemon juice à la Jamie Oliver, or tip into a hot pan with sliced chorizo and chilli flakes, before wilting in a handful of baby spinach leaves.

Large and flat with a mild, creamy flavour, butter beans are substantial enough to take on the starring role in a main course. From food ed Abigail Donnelly’s all-time- favourite butter bean curry, to Yotam Ottolenghi’s next-level salad with red peppers, spring onions, fresh mint and coriander, tossed in a dressing of lemon juice, soya sauce, sesame oil and sweet chilli sauce.

Forgot to soak your dried beans overnight?
Despair not. Bring your dry beans to the boil in a pot of water, boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat, cover with a lid and allow to soak for 1 hour. Ta-da!


Whisk together 1 T red wine vinegar, 2 t finely chopped parsley, 2 t extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Drain and rinse 1 x 400 g can red kidney beans, 1 x 400 g can borlotti beans, 1 x 400 g can butter beans and 1 x 400 g can cannellini beans, then add to the vinaigrette. Add 250 g torn fresh mozzarella and 20 g shredded anchovy fillets. Marinate for 10 minutes. Combine 1 thinly sliced red onion, 1 1⁄2 T red wine vinegar and 300 g halved vine tomatoes and marinate for 10 minutes. Mix with the beans, season to taste and top with fresh mint.

Discover more budget bean recipes here.

TASTE Article by: TASTE

The TASTE team is a happy bunch of keen cooks and writers, always on the look out for the next food trend or the next piece of cake.

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