Regarded “poor man’s food” by an uninspired few, there’s so much more to beans than meets the eye: these little legumes are a nutritional powerhouse – they’re packed with fibre and protein, among other nutrients. Moreover, they’re the ultimate ingredient for when you’re on a budget squeeze, and play well with more than just a sad slice of toast (although these butter bean toasties look rather tempting).
If you don’t know your butter beans from your red kidney beans, get your can-opener ready and read on.
Also known as string beans, green beans are unripe in that they are harvested and eaten with their pods before the seeds have a chance to mature.
How to use them: While they’re great on their own (boiled), you can jazz up green beans by simply roasting them with a drizzle of olive oil and a crack of black pepper and salt. They’re also a great accompaniment to poached eggs, hearty beef stews and salads and as a side to a variety of other dishes.
A variety of the lima bean, butter beans are large and flat with an off-whitish colour, available dried or canned.
How to use them: They have a myriad culinary uses including casseroles, curries and soups. They’re also great pan-fried and served as a side. Rinse dried butter beans thoroughly and soak overnight before boiling for 20 to 30 minutes, or until soft with a bite.
Creamy white in colour, cannellini beans are kidney-shaped and perfect for use in casseroles and salads, or simply served on toast.
How to use them: For fuss-free use, go for the canned variety, but if you’re looking for more flavour and texture, get them dry. If you buy them canned, drain and rinse them before use, but if you get them dried, they need to be rinsed and soaked for a couple of hours before cooking.
Aptly named for their resemblance to kidneys, these dark red beans often make an appearance in Mexican cuisine. They’re packed with iron and protein and are rich in flavour.
How to use them: If you’re using the dried variety, make sure you rinse and soak them before cooking.
Ready to eat, these budget beans are typically made from haricot beans and are sweet-savoury in flavour. They can, however, be spiced up with a few odds and ends from your pantry and fridge.
How to use them: Straight from the can, as a side with eggs and/or toast.
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