Broke vegetarian, in winter, dislikes beans
January 18, 2018 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Hi! I am a vegetarian on a tight budget and I do not like beans (or lentils, or other legumes). I will tolerate dal or refried beans if they are served in a restaurant or something. The only exception is chickpeas or black beans in a cold salad, which I enjoy, but how many salads can you make?!

To prove my bean bona fides--I am from south Texas, home of "whole beans," and I am now Orthodox Jewish, and we have cholent, our own ultra-nasty bean preparation. So I know what I'm talking about, is what I'm saying.

Give me a chance to change my mind (and stay within my food budget)! Give me your best and/or most resourceful bean recipes. For example, this person (weirdo?) makes black bean brownies. Don't worry about the vegetarian/kosher aspect--I can adapt the recipe.

Thank you!
posted by 8603 to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
To clarify, are you only looking for bean recipes, or are you interested in any vegetarian recipes that can be made on a budget?
posted by LKWorking at 7:46 AM on January 18, 2018

Response by poster: Any recipe is fine, but I am primarily interested in beans. Thanks!
posted by 8603 at 7:48 AM on January 18, 2018

How about Dutch pea soup?
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:53 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

How do you feel about hummus or other bean dips/ spreads?
Or falafel?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:54 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

what is it about beans you dislike? this might help guide suggestions some. is it a texture thing? many different kinds of beans have a wild variety of textures.

im a big salad eater in the warmer weather but cant keep it up through winter. have been making a ton of red lentil soup with berbere, I ten to make it with a bunch of water and keep it really thin. the key is finishing it in the bowl with lemon juice and butter.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:55 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I will eat hummus and falafel because there's a lot of other stuff in there (the techina in hummus has a pretty strong taste!). I dislike the taste of beans. Texture is no problem.
posted by 8603 at 7:57 AM on January 18, 2018

If you're ok with chickpeas on a salad, have you tried roasted chickpeas? I mentally categorize these as "crunchy snack" rather than "bean," so this preparation might work for you.
posted by the primroses were over at 7:59 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Roasted chickpeas are like, my go-to quick bean dinner staple.

One can of chickpeas per person. Rinse, dry, and liberally cover with some kind of curry spice mix to taste (ie, cumin, tumeric, coriander, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, salt, pepper) - you seriously cannot overseason. Spread on a baking sheet and roast in a 400°F oven for 20-45 minutes (depending on how crispy you want them - I like 20 minutes).

We serve these in a flatbread wrap with toppings of choice - hummus and cabbage and tomato is the most common, or we replace the hummus with a garlic-dill-lemon-tahini sauce.
posted by muddgirl at 7:59 AM on January 18, 2018 [8 favorites]

Beans kinda.

TVP is made from soy beans and is a really versatile and very inexpensive protein source.. I think some people get turned off by it because it's often not prepared well (can be soggy and flavorless), there are some tricks which I will share with you

TVP is essentially a sponge which will soak up whatever flavor you throw at it... re-hydrating with water is a terrible mistake. re-hydrating with veggie stock is better, but still not good enough. I like to make a bouillon broth 2x concentration and add a big lump of coconut oil for fat and a heaping tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast for umami and a few glugs of soy sauce. Basically, make a super intense broth to rehydrate the tvp because it will expand and dilute it greatly. "Better than bouillon" has a meatless 'chicken' bouillon that I like but if that's not to your taste their veggie is great too.

Once you have your TVP rehydrated you can make any number of things that would use a ground meat substitute.. I use it for tacos.. I take some re-hydrated TVP and fry it up in a pan with more coconut oil and add taco seasoning. You could make a chili with TVP and chili seasoning, corn and garbanzo beans.., but my favorite thing i've made is bolognaise sauce over pasta..

TVP expands a lot when re-hydrated so a cup will turn into a weeks worth of tacos or whatever.. this is the other great thing, you keep the main re-hydration recipe fairly neutral spice wise and you can use the same TVP for tacos one day and "meat" sauce for spaghetti the next.
posted by j03 at 8:05 AM on January 18, 2018 [6 favorites]

Ethiopian berbere stew. If you cook it long enough, the red lentils sort of melt into a sauce. I'm lazy, so I buy this premade berbere spice rather than making the spice mixture in the recipe.
posted by FencingGal at 8:06 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I used to keep a vegetarian food blog called She Spills the Beans. Here's the bean section for you.
posted by jocelmeow at 8:07 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Socca, a savory pancake/flatbread made with chickpea flour. My recipe has a few differences:

I make it in cake pans since I don't have a big cast iron skillet. I preheat the cake pans with oil in them and then, using an oven mitt and being careful, swirl in a little more oil before adding the batter.

For the batter, I let it rest at least an hour, add anywhere from 1/4 tsp to lots-more of chili and cumin, possibly add black pepper or red pepper flakes and - this is the key! - add some finely sliced onion that I have previously sauteed until it is golden. You can also add grated raw zucchini.

For 1 C flour, I use two 9" cake pans and end up with a very thin pancake. I start with 5 minutes of cooking time.

It does not taste like beans.
posted by Frowner at 8:10 AM on January 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

It sounds like you don't like beans on their own, but they are fine as one ingredient in a more complex dish. There are *lots* of recipes like this, if that's true, even if you don't like chili (do you like chili?).

Mark Bitman's Curried Eggplant (with chickpeas)

Chickpeas with spinach and feta - I make a recipe that's pretty much the same, except that I add couscous (cooked). It's good hot or cold.

You can make quesadillas with black beans or refried beans as one of the fillings.

Have you tried lentils?

How about white beans with pasta?

Black eyed peas and greens?
posted by Kriesa at 8:17 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seconding the recommendation for roasted chickpeas, because they don't really have much of a flavour on their own, and they're super easy to add to almost anything. Plus if you cook them from dried rather than canned they're even cheaper.

What about veggie chili? It's my go-to easy + cheap + delicious meal and I don't think much if any bean flavour comes through if you use lots of seasoning. Usually I do tomatoes, beans, sweet potato and red pepper but it's super easy to switch up whatever veggies you prefer.
posted by mr. manager at 8:33 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Socca is a staple food in our (non-vegetarian) household - we make it thicker than Frowner's version, often with garlic fried in the oil before we pour in the batter. Really easy, fast, does not taste like beans. Panisse is a close relative (also made from chickpea flour) that we don't make as often because it's more work, but it's also great.

We are also huge fans of roasted chickpeas - they're more crunchy and salty than beany. They're good with just about any spice mix shaken on top.
posted by mskyle at 8:34 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've been trying to overcome my dislike of lentils lately and have had a fair amount of success with this Easy French Lentils with Garlic and Herbs recipe. (The secret ingredient is a little extra butter!)
posted by praemunire at 8:41 AM on January 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Pumpkin soup works well with added chickpeas plus too much black pepper.
posted by flabdablet at 8:53 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I live in a country that has famous bean dish staples and I sadly don't like any of them. But I do like Veganomicon's tomato rice soup (I use cannellini beans instead of navy beans) and this creamy chickpea/tahini casserole (I add lemon juice and use onion powder instead of chopped onion so if I have cooked rice on hand this is litterally dump everything in a pan and bake).
posted by blub at 8:54 AM on January 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

I know this will sound strange, but you have to try it before you judge it. Oatmeal chili. It is cheap, filling, vegetarian, and really tasty.

Cut up onions, garlic, and peppers. Sautee them until they are soft. Add dry old fashioned oats (not quick oats or instant oatmeal). Add your seasonings (paprika, cumin, chili powder) or throw in a seasoning packet. Give it a few stirs over the heat, then add your tomato products (I usually do canned diced or crushed tomatoes, water, tomato paste). Let it cook until the flavor is where you want it. Add some canned (rinsed) beans.

The oatmeal breaks up in the chili and does not look or taste like a bowl of hot breakfast cereal. You can make a massive pot of this for under $10. It freezes well. You can add as many or few beans as you want because it's not the backbone of the dish.
posted by August Fury at 8:59 AM on January 18, 2018 [10 favorites]

These are my favourite super-cheap-and-super-easy veg*n recipes, with a few mods:

Life Enchanting Lentil Soup: This soup absolutely lives up to its name. I make giant vats of it (double the recipe) every few weeks, freeze most in freezer bag portions, and pull a bag out of the freezer whenever I'm too lazy to cook but want something delicious and hearty and easy. I use quinoa instead of rice for even more protein and because I don't like rice.

Vegan Minestrone:
This is super yummy and simple, and easily modifiable to whatever you have on hand and whatever your veg/bean preferences are. I found it didn't freeze particularly well because the GF pasta got weird, but it was just a strange texture thing, not a taste thing.

Red Cabbage and Kale Slaw: Not beans, but a (slightly decadent) salad alternative that is quick and easy. I don't use sugar or honey in the dressing (don't think it needs it), and I add more sriracha than is called for, and use a spicy sesame oil instead of regular. I also use less olive oil (maybe half?) than is called for. For protein, I top it with baked tofu (marinated in some of the extra dressing or in a basic tamari/sriracha/garlic/sesame oil marinade. I think it would be fine with plain baked tofu, too). You could also throw some chick peas or white beans or edamame or whatever bean you have into this salad if you don't like tofu.

Spaghetti alla Norma: Also not beans, but cheap and easy and scrumptious. When I make this for hubby and me, I pull out half the sauce before the cheese goes in (since I'm vegan and he's not). It's perfectly delicious without cheese (and cheaper, too!). I do it with either shiritaki noodles of GF pasta in my portion, but hubby says the whole wheat pasta as per the recipe is perfecto.

Sweet Potato Hummus:
This is a nice change up from regular hummus.
Green Goddess Hummus: This is even nicer!
posted by Dorinda at 9:12 AM on January 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

As another vegetarian who's not a bean lover, you might try quinoa. Aldi's has the plain version for $2.00 for 1 lb. bag. I mix it half and half with rice and go a tiny bit lighter on the amount I'd use if it was just rice. Any rice recipe can be used with this. The red quinoa has a best flavor to me, a little nuttier than the other ones.
posted by stray thoughts at 9:17 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, if you don't like beans but want something fibrous, have you tried kamut or farro, two "ancient" varieties of wheat? Kamut has 7g of protein per 160 calories, which isn't quite as much as a legume but far more than most grains; farro has a bit less but still a lot.

I make a sort of brothy soup with these - start by sauteing onions, garlic, fennel if you like fennel, carrots, mushrooms, etc, then saute the grain, then add water or broth. I usually use about half the recommended amount of Better Than Bouillon (so if it's 1tsp per cup of water, I use 1/2 tsp) if I don't have stock.

You can dress this up with a little sour cream or parmesan or hot sauce or whatever you like, you can make a lot at once and it keeps for days or freezes.

Kamut and farro are more expensive than beans, but not wildly more expensive than beans, and I find that onion/carrot farro stew ends up being cheap because the other ingredients are also cheap. Plain old wheat berries also work and can be bought in bulk at any natural foods store.
posted by Frowner at 9:21 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

A real breakthrough for non-vegetarian me was cooking dried beans with meat—I'd do stewed ribs or something like that in a crock pot, then put the beans in the remaining liquid. You end up with the same amount of salt as in canned beans but a much more complex flavor. Maybe there are good vegetarian equivalents to meat stock to cook beans in?
posted by XMLicious at 9:26 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have you tried the bean-based pastas? They don't really taste like beans and have worked in every pasta dish I've tried.
posted by snaw at 9:51 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

When I was teaching myself to like beans (a project which went very well, I just finished a lunch featuring black beans), I had two starting points--

1) Adding cannellini or great northern beans to recipes with tomato-based sauces & soups, and

2) Putting pinto beans on nachos. Not simmered in lots of spices and sauce-- literally a can of pinto beans, rinsed off, and spread over some tortilla chips before covering in cheese.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:55 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you like restaurant beans and don't like homemade, the answer is fat. Lots of fat.

This makes it sound like I'm saying "omg restaurant food is so unhealthy." I'm not. It's just... most tasty food has at least a little fat, beans are naturally almost fat-free, and so are most of the other things they're cooked with in vegetarian recipes. Even if you're trying to limit your fat intake, you have a ton of room to add butter, oil, cheese, coconut milk, etc before you get up to the fat level of a normal, reasonably healthy home-cooked carnivorous meal.

Most home cooks are skittish about added fat. So most home cooks make super bland beans. Don't be like them.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:12 AM on January 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

We're vegetarian and I get super-tired of beans. Then I go with baked potatoes and toppings when that happens. Bag of potatoes is pretty cheap. Toppings I've used (not all on one potato, though) frozen broccoli, those frozen crumbles that sub for ground beef, frozen spinach warmed up in coconut milk, dried tomatoes, salsa, miso-walnut paste (not always cheap, though), tapenade, baba ghanoush, feta cheese and pine nuts (also not cheap), baco bits (the original soy ones).
posted by crush at 10:13 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Here's this soup, which is powerfully good.

Dal Makhani is also fantastic, but it takes some patience and finicky ingredients. If you don't have some of the spices, don't worry, you can skip a lot and it'll taste fine. This (more complicated) version tastes even better.

Also, try these brilliant black bean and corn quesadillas.

Hope this helped! Good luck! As a fellow vegetarian, I wish you success.
posted by orangutan at 10:51 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, oh, wait. I have two more.

Here's a beautiful green lentil soup from Orangette. (Molly Wizenberg is one of my favorite food bloggers.)

And there's this phenomenal red lentil stew I default to all the time. It's so good, I could eat it for lunch every day for the rest of my life.
posted by orangutan at 10:58 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do you like peas? Peas have about the same amount of protein as dried legumes, have a fresher taste, and are really cheap when frozen. Tomorrow, I'll be making vegan samosas with potatoes and peas, they are delicious.
Sweet corn, broccoli and spinach are also high in protein, and easily available frozen or canned at fair prices.
There are many types of lentils, and most people I have met like black and/or green lentil stews. I think nebulawindphone is right: you may need to use more fat, and maybe also good-tasting fat like a high quality olive oil. It's expensive but you don't need to use that much to use enough. When I make a lentil stew, I'll cut vegetables like onions, carrots, celery, potatoes and maybe a turnip or a sweet potato into small dice. I'll soften these in olive oil, avoiding browning. Then I'll add garlic and spices and herbs according to that days feeling — I might go for a more French feeling with just a bit of paprika and herbes de Provence, or something more Levantine with chili and cumin and a touch of ginger and then oregano. To this I add a spoonful of vinegar and cook till the smell of vinegar is softened, and then either crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock or just the stock.
I serve when the lentils are soft with a tiny hint of chew, and season with salt and pepper and add a spoonful of fresh olive oil just before serving. Sometimes I'll add a bit of lemon juice as well. Or drops of balsamico. The idea is to have a simple basic recipe and vary it with different types of spice.
Once some relatives of mine were on a strict macrobiotic diet for a couple of years after a hepatitis infection. The food was delicious and there was never a bean in sight that hadn't been turned into tofu or miso. They said they saved a lot of money, but obviously both tofu, tempeh and miso and other soy products are quite expensive. They ate a lot of grains, and for instance, oatmeal for breakfast has a lot of protein, is filling and tasty. I'm thinking that perhaps the savings they gained by eating all those grains outbalanced the cost of the silky tofu.
posted by mumimor at 11:17 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Armenian Apricot Soup from The Soup Peddlar's Slow and Difficult Soups (uses red lentils; simple and delicious and looks pretty)
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:17 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you like beans in Indian food, you should try cooking Indian at home. Once you get a hang of the spices and techniques, it's pretty simple. Vegan Richa's blog and cookbook are great. Lord Krishna's Cuisine is a great resource too.
posted by slogger at 11:18 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Speaking of peas, if any markets near you have British imports they may have cans of mushy peas.
posted by XMLicious at 11:31 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

If tofu is too expensive and you need another hobby you could try making it at home.* These instructions make it seem fairly easy and Cultures for Health** has pretty cheap coagulant.
*Have not done it myself.
**I have bought yogurt culture from them and made over 100 batches and counting from their Bulgarian culture.
posted by Botanizer at 11:32 AM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

What are your thoughts on sprouted legumes?

You can add red lentils to lots of soups, especially pureed soups, and not taste them at all (or even see them really, since they disintegrate if you've cooked them long enough). Some kind of orange soup with sweet potatoes/carrots/squash works well here, and if you're pureeing then I'd think mild-tasting legumes like navy beans and urad dal would similarly not stand out. Soups like sambar might also work.

Dosa and idli don't taste like lentils to me, and you're meant to eat them in combination with other things anyway which would further distract from the taste.

If you have access to green fava beans (frozen, probably), give them a try - they don't feel like beans in taste or texture imo. Green lima beans might be similar, not sure.
posted by trig at 12:11 PM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This lobiani (bean paste inside bread) recipe is effort, but is awesome. Obviously leave the meat out (that variation is in the recipe). We have been living on this quite a bit this winter and I think I posted it in another thread but it's that good.

This "falafel" is not falafel but it is really good. We are not vegan but we leave the cheese and sour cream out regularly (there is still an egg white). I use breadcrumbs or crushed crackers instead of chips for both health and budget reasons.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:55 PM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm with you -- I don't like legumes and wish I did. I do like stuck-pot rice and lentils, as first encountered here and traced back to here. Well actually what I like is my variation on those recipes, since it took me a few tries to get it right, plus I want it with brown basmati for the fiber. I use the second recipe as the foundation, and...

Bring lightly salted water to boil.
Add 1.5c rinsed brown basmati - adjust to lively simmer
After 15 min, add 1 c rinsed lentils - lively simmer another 12 min
Meanwhile, slice 1 lg onion; chop .5c dates; zest 1 orange
Drain rice/lentils, put in large bowl
Add butter + oil to pot and brown onions + salt, pepper on med high
Meanwhile, flavor rice/lentils to taste with salt, pepper, and curry powder or its components (I usually don't have curry powder, but do have chili pepper, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, and coriander). Then, stir in 1/4 c greek full fat yogurt and some lemon.
To the onions in the pot, add dates, orange, slivered toasted almonds, and more cardamom, salt, and pepper. Remove to a separate bowl.
Add more butter/oil to pot on med high. When hot, press in 1/2 rice to bottom and up part of sides to sizzle. Put onion mixture in the well. Press the rest of the rice down firmly on top. Sprinkle with water.
Cover with tight lid wrapped in cloth. Turn heat down for 30+ minutes, until bottom is toasty but not burnt. Remove from heat and let sit 5 min.
Serve with more yogurt and lemon.
posted by daisyace at 5:24 PM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OK, as per Frowner and mskyle, I got some chickpea flour and an onion to make socca. Darned if I didn't forget the zucchini! Will advise!
posted by 8603 at 4:05 PM on January 19, 2018

Response by poster: Success with the socca! It is a close relative of polenta, but much quicker to make. I now have to get over to my local Indian grocery and see what the best price on chickpea flour might be. Believe it or not, Bob's Red Mill was fairly reasonable at $2.79 a package.
posted by 8603 at 6:39 PM on January 20, 2018

You can make chickpea flour that would be more than good enough for any polenta-alike by putting dry chickpeas in a blender.
posted by flabdablet at 7:33 PM on January 20, 2018

Response by poster: I thought about it, but not's pretty fine, not mealy at all.
posted by 8603 at 7:43 PM on January 20, 2018

Best answer: If you're into slow food, soaking and\or sprouting (lentils, beans, peas) creates a different legume experience than boiling. A friend makes a mind blowingly fresh salad of with soaked dry peas. We have whole dry peas here, but this could probably be made in a few hours if using split peas. First soak 1\2 -1 cup dry peas in room temp water for 2-3 days, changing water every 12 hours or so. Throw them in a food processor with radishes, a fresh carrot, some onion, garlic if you're into it, lots of parsley (or cilantro, spinach, basil, whatever you're into\is fresh), salt, pepper, oil, lemon juice or vinegar, and anything else you find. Blend to desired consistency (can be pureed to a liquid and used as a dressing or left chunkier as a salad). Oh wow, I wish I had some now, nomnomnom.

I love adding sprouted lentils to everything.

Lastly, an Indian friend makes incredible bread from soaked beans and rice. She soaks 1:1 ratio of beans and rice (garbanzos, lentils, and mung beans are her faves) for a few hours, purees it, leaves it overnight to ferment (she adds sourdough culture if its chilly) adds spices and steams or bakes it. Similar idea to this bean tortilla recipe.
posted by hannahelastic at 2:34 AM on January 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Update: my local Indian grocery has chickpea flour at $4.99 for 4 pounds, placing socca well into budget eating territory. Hooray!
posted by 8603 at 4:21 PM on February 2, 2018

Response by poster: Another A+ on the lobiani. Delicious, and you don't even need a specialty grocery to make it affordable. It is literally composed of dry beans and flour. And an onion.
posted by 8603 at 5:28 PM on February 4, 2018

« Older What should I do with my time before I get made...   |   Can you help me find sources of information about... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.