I have always kept a huge variety canned beans in my cupboard – black beans, chickpeas, white beans, pinto beans, lentils, and more. My friends used to make fun of me about it, but now that we’re facing the Corona quarantine they see how on point I have been all along. Canned beans are a cupboard staple as versatile and delicious as it is practical and nutritious. Sure, you know you can blend them into dips, sprinkle them on salads, or toss them with pasta, but there is so much more you can do with them. Here are some different ways to put those beans to use that you might not have thought of:

Blend or mash into soups and stews

Add creaminess without cream!  Pureeing or mashing beans into soups and stews adds richness and body and amps up the nutrition in the dish, including adding protein to turn it into a satisfying main course.  These two recipes from my new cookbook Whole in One: Complete Healthy Meals in a Single Pot, Sheet Pan or Skillet demonstrate that deliciously.

Chickpea and Farro Stew
In this recipe, chickpeas and a bit of broth are blended until smooth and poured back into the pot to give the final dish a hearty finish.

Butternut Squash Soup with Tahini and Crispy Chickpeas
Here, chickpeas are blended along with the rest of the ingredients in the final step, melding in seamlessly to create a velvety soup that is a meal in a bowl.

Smash as a toast topper

Simply use a fork to smash beans with some oil and citrus for a creamy, protein-rich toast spread. The creative flavor options are limitless. Here are a couple to try:

Mashed Chickpea toast with parsley and capers
This pantry friendly recipe is a snap to whip up. The creamy texture of smashed chickpeas is complemented by a splash of olive oil and lemon juice. The capers delivering a perfect burst of saltiness.

Mushroom and white bean toast
Thyme scented mushrooms are layered on a garlicky white bean mash to deliver a meal in itself or a perfect small plate to share with a group.

Snack-ify

Tossing canned chickpeas with spices then roasting or skillet-cooking them turn them into a delicious snack. You can use them to top salads and soup, too. Need another reason munch on these toasty nuggets? Research shows that the fiber and protein in beans increase feelings of satiety (keeps you fuller longer).  What bag of potato chips can make that claim?

3-ingredient sweet and spicy chickpeas
A toss with chili powder, a touch of brown sugar, salt and pepper and some time in a skillet turn chickpeas into a crisp and satisfying snack.

 

A word about sodium:  Choose low-sodium canned beans whenever possible and note that organic canned beans are often lower in sodium without being advertised that way. Also, draining and rinsing canned beans reduces their sodium content by about 40%.

 

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