Summer of Beans
June 1, 2021 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I have a TON of dried beans (mostly white/navy beans, but some others too). We stocked up last fall so we could go to the store less often, and I cook a lot with beans in the winter -- soups, stews, etc. And then I was very ill and my husband took over cooking for basically the whole winter, and he does not even know how to soak beans. I'd like to make some summer bean dishes! But I don't know any. HOPE ME.

My husband and I will eat adventurous, spicy dishes; my kids less so. (Feel free to give us both!) Things that require less or lower heat are nice; my kitchen heats up fast in the summer.
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Food & Drink (41 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Three-bean salads? Here's one I like, though I loathe celery so don't include it.
posted by humbug at 9:15 AM on June 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Well first of all, to address your hot kitchen problem, forget soaking them and put them straight into a pressure cooker. They will come out not just fine but better, I promise.

My favorite bean salad is cannellini, tuna, celery and pimento-stuffed olives. Use yellowfin tuna packed in olive oil and use the whole can including the oil. Add red wine vinegar, oregano, and crushed red pepper.
posted by HotToddy at 9:22 AM on June 1, 2021 [13 favorites]

Actually maybe that was a little confusing—I assumed that if you’re soaking them, you’re cooking them in a regular pot, which of course takes longer than pressure cooking. Didn’t mean to imply that soaking generates heat, just that pressure cooking generates less heat and doesn’t require soaking.
posted by HotToddy at 9:25 AM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I second salads. You can use cooked beans as the base for pretty much any kind of dressing, really. I like this one.

You can also substitute beans for chickpeas in a faux-hummus.

I also love eating homemade baked beans with bacon as a cold sandwich topping.
posted by confluency at 9:27 AM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I second the suggestion to use a pressure cooker. Quick, efficient, energy saving and no soaking needed. One piece of advice : you might want to let the pressure drop naturally. Releasing the steam quickly may make the beans burst out of their skin.
posted by bluefrog at 9:29 AM on June 1, 2021 [5 favorites]

Another mefite recommended lobiani and they are great! They don't sound like a hot-weather food, but they are. Worth the effort.
posted by 8603 at 9:34 AM on June 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

These are the best black beans I've ever had.
posted by bq at 9:43 AM on June 1, 2021

Pressure cooker/instant pot is a good way to cook the beans - or, if you have the freezer space, you could just get a shit-ton of two-cup-size freezer containers, cook all the beans in one go, dole them all out to those containers, and freeze the lot. Then you can just grab them out of the freezer one at a time as you need them (they should be thawed overnight in the fridge first). The advantage to the frozen beans is that they will keep long enough to last you into winter, and be a good base for improvisational minestrone (saute the onion, carrot and celery first, pour in the broth and any other random chopped fresh veg, then drop a frozen block o' beans directly into the pot and proceed).

And as for how to use them -

* There are a ton of classic white bean salads, usually involving the addition of tuna or lemon zest or capers. This makes a lovely summer dish, and you can switch it up and turn that exact same thing into a pasta dish by simply tossing it with cooked pasta. I am deliberately not linking to anything because there are just plain too many to choose from.

* A similarly -classic salad involves black beans with other stuff - usually chopped onion, bell pepper, and corn. Also not linking to anything in particular because options are many.

* There is a salad with chick peas I have fallen for big time, because it whips up in a snap and is delicious - for 2 cups of cooked chick peas, I would chop up a half an onion and a quarter cup to a half cup of black olives, and then for the dressing I'd use about a quarter to a half cup of olive oil, whizzed in a food processor with a drizzle of vinegar, a dab of Dijon mustard, a clove of garlic and a couple tablespoons of whatever herbs you want. (I usually use rosemary and a little oregano because that's usually what's growing like crazy on my windowsill.) You could probably substitute other beans as well.

* White beans can be turned into a hummus-like dip called "ful". This particular recipe tops it with some cooked chick peas, but you can obviously leave that out.

* There's a really quick summery seafood stew I've made that's an amalgam of beans, a little chopped tomato, some kind of seafood and some chopped leafy greens in a seafood broth. I have made it from scratch by cooking the beans from scratch, steaming open clams or mussels, saving the broth from the mussels and using that in the finished dish with new kale, and I have also made it using canned beans, a chunk of frozen spinach and a handful of frozen shrimp. Works great either way and can be adapted to whatever greens/seafood/beans you have on hand, and if the beans are already cooked it comes together pretty quick.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:47 AM on June 1, 2021 [6 favorites]

You can make hummus or dip variations with lots of different beans.

I'm linking to some of my fav recipes below; they are at NYT Cooking which my library card gets me into but if you can't get in and any are things you're craving and can't get the recipe hit me up in MeMail!

Lentils Diavolo - spicy lentils, cooks on stovetop
Vegan Onion Dip (cashew and onion, uses cannellini beans but I've used white kidney and white navy beans)
Tomato and White Bean Soup with lots of garlic - 30 min on stove
Cheesy beans - stovetop about 15 min once beans are soft. My kids adore this one.
Beans and Garlic Toast in Broth - specifically requires dried beans; has pressure cooker modification
Creamy White Beans in Herb Oil - 15 min once beans are soft
This one requires baking: Breton Tuna and White Bean Gratin - but it's a really nice noodle/rice-free tuna casserole

Non-NYT recipes:
Smoky Beans and Greens on Toast
Hummus Bowls
Saucy Beans and Artichoke Hearts with Feta

I'm sure that's a lot but I can add more later. We eat a lot of beans around here. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 9:51 AM on June 1, 2021 [5 favorites]

I made a pot of pinto beans the other day, have had them with corn chips and salsa, with rice, and this morning oin corn tortillas with scrambled eggs and salsa. You can make hummus with all sorts of beans, not just chick peas. And beans keep indefinitely, so you don't need to be in a hurry to use them.
posted by theora55 at 10:06 AM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Seconding hummus. Also, you can make refried beans out of basically any bean.
posted by rockindata at 10:06 AM on June 1, 2021

You can make vegan pate with any bean, and I personally like to add sauteed mushrooms - this is a mushroom-walnut-bean version that's also very good.

Any bean made in a flavorful fashion (if you don't have any fresher-ish dried bay leaves, refresh your supply from a reputable source) and given a bit of a mash works as a layer in tacos, burritos, tostadas, or nachos. Use cumin, coriander, onion, garlic, and achiote if you can get some.

Any good flavorful bean is also really good with eggs or in an omelette.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:08 AM on June 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

This is a bean salad I developed last summer for the not-adding-heat desideratum: A Midsummer Night's Beans.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:09 AM on June 1, 2021

Anchovies over tuna with white beans, for me.

Lemony White Beans With Anchovy and Parmesan [NYT cooking, cached]

You can make a hummus style dip with it that's very good, a standby at parties in my family, flavor per your household's preferences:

White bean dip
Giada de Laurentiis' white bean dip
Roasted Garlic & Rosemary White Bean Dip [NYT Cooking, cached]
David Lebovitz - White Bean Dip (Dill)

You can make a kind of polenta-like bean cake or patty with them.

White Bean & Sage patties

If you want to experiment you might be able to ball it up instead so it comes out more like arancini (if you add cheese) or falafel.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:24 AM on June 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

Instapots are AMAZing. We have two and they are always in use. They do so much! And it's true, no bean soaking required. One thing I don't see mentioned is you can throw all the ingredients in, and then set it to cook later. We make oatmeal this way, for instance.

The other cool thing you can do with an instapot is saute and then pressure cook all in the same pot.

I mean, at this point, I even use it for boiling potatoes. It switches to "keep warm" automatically. No more boiling away all the water because I wandered off and forgot about them.

And it's insulated, so if you vent it outside, it won't heat up your kitchen!

Instapots really take the pressure off cooking in the kitchen.
posted by aniola at 10:27 AM on June 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Would anyone in the family go for sprouted beans? I don't make them myself, but I do buy them at our farmer's market, and they're nice either on a salad or in a marinated salad of their own, and you wouldn't need to heat the kitchen at all to make them. Lentils and chickpeas are my favorite this way.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:31 AM on June 1, 2021

I would also like to put in a word for my favorite non-recipe, which is beans in their broth with greens (spinach, arugula, kale, whatever), olive oil, and a grating of pecorino or parmigiano. I must have this twice a week all year round. Food for the soul as well as the body. Cheap and always available if you have greens in the freezer.
posted by HotToddy at 10:48 AM on June 1, 2021 [6 favorites]

My favourite bean salad:

Fresh green beans, blanched and cut in half
Tinned (or, in your case, freshly boiled) beans of your choice
Rinsed fresh bean sprouts (the bean sprouts are the key: so crunchy!)
Red onion, thinly sliced

Toss in a red wine vinaigrette. Delicious!

Optional additions: fresh corn, chickpeas, puy lentils, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, walnuts
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 10:56 AM on June 1, 2021

Response by poster: I do not own a pressure cooker and, due to kitchen space constraints and lack of outlets, will not be acquiring one.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:58 AM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not a recipe, but a bean-cooking tip. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can also cook beans in a crock pot, and you can even set it outside so it doesn't affect the house temperature. Once cooked, the beans can be frozen in 1 cup increments for easy adding to recipes (as one might add canned beans).
posted by hydra77 at 11:00 AM on June 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

A summer minestrone, based on the fresh produce of the day, takes only 20 minutes to make and can be very refreshing. If tomatoes are in season, use fresh, if not, don't use, the tinned tomato taste makes it more "wintery", somehow. Add pre-cooked beans to the soup, rather than cook them in the soup.
A very simple salad, just with beans, sliced onions, cubed tomatoes and lots of parsley, dressed with lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper is a delicious side for any grilled food.
Cuban breakfast beans are delicious too. This recipe uses canned black beans, but IMO, any bean will do.
posted by mumimor at 11:02 AM on June 1, 2021

Response by poster: "And beans keep indefinitely, so you don't need to be in a hurry to use them."

I know, but again -- super-constrained kitchen/pantry space, so I'd like to use some of the ingredients I have on hand. Our normal storage system got out of whack when we unexpectedly traded off chefs! Most of it I can go through at a normal pace now that I'm cooking again, but beans in the summer I've never done before and they're taking up a bunch of space.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:03 AM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

This take on the classic Tuscan bread and tomato salad includes white beans for hearty texture and protein, turning it into a main-course option.

BTW, if I am using raw onion or garlic in a salad, I often slice or mince them, and then put them in the lemon or vinegar I'm going to use for the marinade/dressing 20 minutes before assembling the salad. That way, the alliums become more "child-friendly".
posted by mumimor at 11:19 AM on June 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

These White Bean and Spinach Quesadillas are a hit in our house. The website has several other bean recipes, though I haven't tested them out yet.
posted by msbubbaclees at 11:25 AM on June 1, 2021

Corn pea salad.

This the thing everybody knows that's normally supposed to be made with black beans but I make it every year when sweet corn shows up in the farmers' market and use whatever pea (black eyed, zipper, whatever) is also available. Any bean would work. Well, garbanzos might be a bit weird texturally, and they're on the large side. Navy beans, fine. Any non-huge beans should be fine.

Everything is raw apart from the beans.

equal parts: cooked beans/peas, sweet corn, small-diced tomato, small-diced green pepper.
to taste: red or green onion--any onion so long as not too hot, diced small to be corn-niblet/bean-sized; cilantro; lime juice; cumin
to taste as you serve it: olive oil and salt

(I don't add the oil and salt to the whole salad unless I'm bringing it to a potluck or something. Usually it's 'fridged for a while and we munch through it over several days. The salt breaks everything down so it won't keep as long, and the oil gets all solid and grody in the fridge.)

(You can add this like a salsa to tacos. Put it on a green salad like a garnish. But I normally just throw a heap in a bowl and shovel it into my face as-is.)
posted by Don Pepino at 11:38 AM on June 1, 2021

Cannellini Beans with Spinach Looks delicious. I'm going to try it soon.

I'm in the proces of reading the Italian classic "The Silver Spoon" from beginning to end, and tried to find some of the bean recipes from it online for you, with no luck. But this was one thing that turned up. Maybe as a search tip: search in the image search category, for "summer beans".
posted by mumimor at 11:39 AM on June 1, 2021

Boston Baked Beans are a classic picnic and cookout favorite. Chef John's version has a shorter cooking time than most.

His Baked Beans and Rice is also good, flavored with a bottle of store bought salsa. You would have to soak and boil the beans first as withe the recipe above.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:42 AM on June 1, 2021


Cooked beans

Put pesto and beans together in a bowl. Stir.

For special occasions, garnish with halved cherry tomatoes or a sprig of basil.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:43 AM on June 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'm a big fan of white beans and Smitten Kitchen, especially the Spring panzanella. Amazinggg!

For an easy dinner, I usually combine pasta + white beans + pesto + sundried tomatoes + peas.

A similar idea but with toast: Cannellini aglio e olio.
posted by Robocat at 11:53 AM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm fond of Georgian Kidney Bean Salad ('Lobio') found about half way through this article
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:53 AM on June 1, 2021

I put lots of beans on regular green salads. Go ahead and cook up those beans, freeze them in meal-size quantities, and put them on salads for lunches every day. I often flavor them as taco beans, but you can also make them plain and then use salad dressings and toppings to make them different.

Roasted chickpeas are also a great snack.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 11:55 AM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Tinned fish salads and shrimp salads made from those tiny precooked shrimp are amazing with beans. Lean into Mediterranean flavors and use aioli (or just add some crushed garlic to your mayo), capers, lemon. Add some dill, mint, or basil, and you can add crunch with celery or even minced herb stems. You can use different ratios of beans to seafood as you like, or swap in shredded chicken too. I love about half white beans, half tiny shrimp especially, with plenty of dill. The more beans in there, the more you can bump up the strong flavors to compensate for the plainness of the beans. If you don’t like mayo you can go fully olive oil based, try to emulsify it with lemon juice before mixing into the rest.

To make it fancy and feel like a proper meal, hollow out a big heirloom tomato with a grapefruit spoon and salt the inside a bit. Leave it to sit while you assemble the salad and tip out the juices before filling. You can keep the seeds juice and inside chunks for another purpose (great mixed into refried beans, quick pasta dishes, veggie stock, salsas). Pack the seafood and bean salad into every crevice of your big tomato, and mound it a bit on top. Garnish with some herbs or capers and set the whole thing on a plate with mixed greens. Sprinkle a little olive oil and salt over the whole business. Also good with some fresh mozzarella around the sides too. Eat it with a fork and knife, and feel like a fancy person out to lunch in the 60s.
posted by Mizu at 12:05 PM on June 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

(sorry about the all-caps)
posted by mumimor at 12:08 PM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Consider a Sun Oven for slow cooking beans (and other food). Theoretically you can make your own, but I bought one years ago and got so much use out of it, I bought a second one. I love that it doesn't heat the kitchen during our months-long Southwest summers.
posted by olopua at 1:19 PM on June 1, 2021

Soaking beans is a myth; beans need to be rinsed in case rocks or sticks or whatever got mixed in, but soaking just wastes time.

Bean types matter; freshly dried beans are orders of magnitude better than years-old beans from the bottom shelf of the Kroger. And canned beans are basically always disappointing (they're pre-cooked, and so at high risk of overcooking in most dishes, and will also tend to fall apart).

For summer dishes, I'm assuming that you want to go toward colder stuff. For that, lighter beans tend to be better, and my personal tastes lean toward the Italian side of beans (meaning broader white beans, like cannellini) which work well in pasta e fagiolli and bean salads. Cannellini tend toward a creamy texture that is enhanced by salt and olive oil, you can give them a long slow simmer first, then use them cold later. Cannellini with olive oil, salt, diced red onions and tomatoes, and some chopped parsley works well as a side.

Also, for tons of summer bean soups, check out Love Soup by Anna Thomas.
posted by klangklangston at 2:46 PM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

This dish feels season independent. Apparently it's not a breakfast dish in Spain, but I like to make it for breakfast. I've been using canned beans but if you precook some beans and have them on hand I expect you could use them just fine.

Anyways, it's super tasty, pretty easy to make, and it seems pretty healthy:

posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 8:05 PM on June 1, 2021

I asked my kids to add to my list with their other favourites and here's what they said:

Bean burgers (this is the recipe I use even though it's called 'falafel' which it is not!)
Black bean brownies - these are actually awesome although you do need a blender/bullet. I've never tried them with another bean. I suspect the colour would be off but the flavour would be fine with a different mild bean.
Slow cooker baked beans with maple syrup - this one is very "dump everything in the pot, leave for 9 hours." In my house we usually put on the breadmaker to go with it, and the leftovers make beans on toast for lunch.

"Smashed beans" - dice an onion, saute in a good quantity of oil. Once onion is soft and translucent, add however many beans fill the bottom of the saute pan, add whatever flavours you like (we add garam masala but have done tex-mex and garlic/ginger although we add those just before the beans). After just a minute or two, take a potato masher and mash the beans into the oil and onions, leaving some bean pieces for texture. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve on toast, ryvita crisps, on buns, in pitas, or in a bowl. Top with grated cheese if you like.

I can't believe I forgot those, but that's why I asked my kids. :)

Nthing the slow cooker elsewhere trick (I use the basement in the summer.) I tend to use appliances in "wrong rooms" during party prep in the Before Covid times, like 'breadmaker and Instant Pot in the living room, slow cooker on the kitchen table, turkey roaster in the basement," I just stick a cutting board under them. Another trick for the summer is you can do something like the baked beans overnight and then just store and reheat in the microwave for dinner. It's tough! Strength to you as you use up your hoard. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 6:14 AM on June 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite summer bean side salads is really simple - just red kidney beans (though any bean will do), plentiful chunks of cucumber, sliced rings of red onion, and a vinaigrette of your choice (I like tarragon vinegar, Dijon mustard and some garlic in mine). Marinate for a few hours (at least 1) and serve. Garnish with watercress if you want.

Another main dish we make includes a 19 oz. can of white kidney beans (so sub your beans), a can of tuna (drained), some chopped scallions, then add vegetables of your choice - I like sliced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes, sliced or chunked cucumber, and sliced avocado, but this is very forgiving so add what you want. Then add a vinaigrette (I use a similar one to the kidney bean salad), some salt and pepper, and let marinate in fridge for a bit. Serve over lettuce if you would like.

Nthing using the crockpot in non traditional places. I have a heavy duty rated extension cord so can plug into a wall, and then plunk the crockpot down on a table with my thick wooden cutting board under it. My kitchen is smaller than most bathrooms, so I have to do stuff like this.
posted by gudrun at 6:34 AM on June 2, 2021

If you're going to use a slow cooker / crockpot to cook beans from scratch, please bear in mind that specific varieties of beans (for example red kidney beans) have a very high concentration of phytohemagglutinin -- enough to make you very sick if you don't boil them to denature it (the recommended duration varies depending on whether the beans have been soaked). After that it should be completely fine to transfer the beans to a slow cooker.

Most bean varieties don't contain this toxin at a dangerous level, but I always precook them anyway just to be sure.
posted by confluency at 2:03 AM on June 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

As for the claim that soaking is pointless -- the writers of that article themselves admit that soaking may not have made much of a difference to the cooking time in their tests because pinto beans are so small. I assure you from past experience that soaking makes a significant difference to the cooking time of large butter beans.

There are also unrelated nutritional reasons to sprout beans -- while I haven't found it to provide any magical and noticeable benefits, like reducing flatulence, I know that sprouting causes objectively verifiable changes which improve the availability of certain nutrients, so I try to do it if I have the time.
posted by confluency at 2:16 AM on June 3, 2021

Since we're comparing notes on "to soak or not to soak" - one advantage to soaking is that it lessens the, er, digestive impact for those prone to such a thing (or, as a Greek playwright I know once said, "it gets rid of the farts").

Fortunately, there's a second and faster way of soaking that is particularly good at this - the "quick-soak" method. You rinse the beans, then dump them in a pot with a lot of water, put that on the stove on high, bring to a boil and boil the hell out of them for a couple minutes. Then you turn off the heat and let the beans soak for just an hour or so instead of "eight hours" or "overnight".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:35 AM on June 3, 2021

« Older Therapy without the therapy   |   Medically, I am an enigma, to self and countless... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.