Actually looking for plates of beans
July 23, 2018 10:31 AM   Subscribe

What is the best cookbook about beans? I'm trying to reduce my meat intake considerably, but am not a huge fan of tofu, tempeh, seitan, etc. No hard and fast requirements, but in particular I would love books that have simple recipes (e.g. not a ton of ingredients, only occasional "recipes which have components that themselves require other recipes") and draw from a wide variety of cultures. Doesn't have to be completely focused on beans, and doesn't need to be totally vegan, but definitely would appreciate such a tome. Thanks!
posted by miltthetank to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
I don't own either of Rancho Gordo's books but have used his online tutorials and they are really easy. The beans are fantastic too!
posted by BibiRose at 10:41 AM on July 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

Also not a book, but I've always been a big fan of recipes from Serious Eats. The Barbecue Beans recipe is an annual tradition when the smoker comes out.
posted by youknowwhatpart at 10:44 AM on July 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I used to write a vegetarian food blog titled She Spills the Beans because of my deep affection for them. Here's the bean section.

Please excuse the broken images; I moved it from one service to another and I've been too sick to fix them.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:45 AM on July 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian has a large section devoted to legumes specifically with some pretty good recipes that aren't too fussy or ingredient-intensive. It also contains lots of other non-meat recipes that aren't about beans, obviously.

I know Smitten Kitchen is a perennial favourite here (for good reason). She's got a good chunk of bean recipes.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:46 AM on July 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

Best answer: More With Less has a variety of ways to jazz up beans, plus many other very simple recipes. Even the meat recipes include ways to convert to vegetarian or reduce the meat used. There is discussion of Mennonite values and a sprinkling of Bible quotes throughout, in case that bothers you, but they are well-chosen and you can enjoy the recipes even if you skim past the writers' specific rationale for simplicity.

The Tassajara Cookbook offers really good vegetarian recipes with a laid-back perspective. There are very good recipes throughout.

Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone is fantastic and will explain exactly what to do with vegetables to make them the stars of dinner. Looks like there's a new edition that I'm not familiar with. Similarly, the "How to cook everything: vegetarian" book by Mark Bittman comes highly recommended to me, but I only know the original, which has some pretty good vegetarian recipes anyway.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:47 AM on July 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Small Victories by Julia Turshen is full of simple, delicious recipes. Each recipe has ways to adapt it, and a lot of those methods are non-soy, non-fake-meat vegan adaptations.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone also features very little soy and fake meat, but primarily focuses on Western European recipes.

Super Natural Every Day veers a little into superfoods territory, but it has simple, vegetarian recipes that don't require extra components.

None of these focus on beans but they do feature a lot of beans!
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:47 AM on July 23, 2018

Best answer: I ended up not using it for no good reason except I had to return it and didn't check it out again, but I checked The Great Vegan Bean Book out of the library, and it looked good. I bring it up specifically because it really is all about beans.

If you have access to a good library, I'd strongly recommend trying some cookbooks out before buying any. I used to own Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and though lots of people love it, its size made it feel overwhelming to me. I feel that way about Mark Bittman's books too. I'm a big fan of the Oh She Glows cookbook (you can also check her recipes out on her blog). Also, the How Not to Die cookbook has some bean recipes I love. The Moroccan Lentil Soup is amazing. But that one does have a general spice mix you have to make for a lot of the recipes, so that may not be good for you as it's technically a recipe that requires another recipe - though I made a bunch of it and just keep it on hand.
posted by FencingGal at 11:20 AM on July 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The fantastically named Crescent Dragonwagon has an entire cookbook about beans that I heartily recommend.
posted by skycrashesdown at 11:22 AM on July 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

Few years out of date, but The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook has a lot of great recipes (published in 1998, so not a single tempeh recipe in it!)

For those cold days The Vegetarian Chili Cookbook has recipes for bean soup with very varied flavor profiles.
posted by Dotty at 11:56 AM on July 23, 2018

Donna Klein's books are excellent for traditional cooking without meat/meat substitutes -- don't let the fact that she's vegan scare you off. I cook out of The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen frequently and Supermarket Vegan is the book I gave my grandma when she asked me the same question. It's great for simple weeknight recipes, tailored specifically to ingredients available at the average American supermarket.
posted by veery at 12:02 PM on July 23, 2018

I frequently turn to the recipe section of the Camellia Brand website for bean ideas. A great number of them are meatless.
posted by CheeseLouise at 12:25 PM on July 23, 2018

I'm here to recommend all the entries in the so-called World Community Cookbook series. I love the stories and anecdotes that accompany the recipes in these books. So...

nthing More with Less

My favorite in the series is Extending the Table.

Simply in Season came later and discusses ways to cook seasonal foods you can grow or find in farmer's markets - obviously, this varies widely based on where you live.

The spicy split pea soup in More with Less is one of my favorite recipes.
posted by rw at 12:55 PM on July 23, 2018

I sub beans for meat in a fair number of curry recipes, with success. I love Farinata; it's very flexible. The linked recipe is greatly improved if you let the batter sit for 4 - 8 hours.
posted by theora55 at 3:41 PM on July 23, 2018

+1 for More with Less and Extending the Table -- Extending the Table covers everyday simple home meals from all over the world (as opposed to special meals or feasts or restaurant food) ... More with Less is simple home cooking from North American traditions. They're my most-used cookbooks by a lot! Even where they use meat, they tend to use it more as a flavoring or garnish than as the main component of the dish. There are a few celebratory-hunk-of-meat meals in there, but a lot more "small amount of bacon in the pasta for a bit of flavor" type things. So many beans!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:12 PM on July 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Crescent Dragonwagon. I don’t know the one skycrashesdown recommends above, but I do consider The Passionate Vegetarian’s bean section to be my bean bible.

This is the book that inspired me to properly soak and pressure cook beans. Makes all the difference!

It has a comprehensive chart with all the different kinds of beans, methods, and times. That’s why I like it.
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 7:22 PM on July 23, 2018

2016 was the International Year of Pulses, and they published a book with recipes and stuff. Available as a free download!
posted by juliapangolin at 7:46 PM on July 23, 2018

Much More Veg is exactly what you need.
posted by chiquitita at 3:33 AM on July 24, 2018

Inserting my regular cookbook recommendation from the Moosewood pantheon here. You would find the bean dishes under the "main dish salads" and "main dish soups" sections; the idea behind that book is that you have a salad or soup as a "main dish" and you supplement it with a simpler vegetable salad or soup to round out the meal. There are myriad mix-and-match options for bean and grain based salads, porridges, stews, and soups, along with myriad vegetable based salads and soups that complement them.

Also, their specialized low fat recipes book has an entire section devoted to bean recipes, and their variety of international cuisines cookbook has some lovely options as well (the first time I tried pasta fagioli, it was their recipe).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:01 AM on July 24, 2018

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