Beans have lots going for them; they are really good for you and cheap to buy.
Dried beans cost less than cooked tinned ones, but the dried ones need soaking and cooking, so you may find tinned ones are more convenient. Beans are good for you because they are crammed full of soluble fiber, protein, carbohydrates, folate and iron, and count towards the five portions of fruit and vegetables we are advised to be eating these days.
Dried beans are slightly healthier because they contain less salt, but if you are using tinned ones, look for low-salt varieties. You can then keep and use the bean juice in your cooking as it contains much of the goodness.
Dried beans are really easy to cook: just soak overnight in cold water, then drain and cook in fresh water by bringing to the boil, skimming off any scum and boiling vigorously for 10 minutes, then gently until soft (approx. 45-60 minutes). You can always boil up a big pot and then freeze the cooked beans in meal-size portions.
Several of my go-to bean family dinners are here (with full recipes below):
- baked boston beans (with pork belly and molasses)
- tuna and bean salad with fresh parsley and lemon
- chilli beans (either with minced beef or as a vegetarian option)
There is also nothing wrong with a good ol’ tin of baked beans either – the salt/sugar content is the main issue – choose a Lite version if you are concerned.
Living with a six-year old means that inevitably too much talk of beans leads to too much talk about farts! According to a leading men’s magazine, ‘eating beans and experiencing increased flatulence may be exaggerated’. So I say, I will refrain from making any bad jokes here and just say, happy eating!
Boston Baked Beans
- 3 tins beans – I used Ceres Organic Pinto ones
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 3 cups hot water
- 250g pork belly, cubed
- 250g bacon pieces, cubed
- 1 large onion, chopped
- Drain the tinned beans. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
- Mix the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, and ground cloves with the hot water.
- On the stove top, with a little oil, gently sauté the chopped onion, bacon pieces and pork belly in a cast-iron casserole (or something that can go on the stove top and in the oven and has a lid) and as soon as the onion has softened and the fat is starting to run from the pork, put the beans in, pour over the molasses and mustard mixture, and give it a little stir.
- Cook in the oven for an hour and a half. The onion and pork belly should be meltingly tender and the whole dish should be fragrant and a delicious honey caramel colour.
- You could serve the beans with mashed potato and steamed cabbage.
Tuna and Beans (tonno e fagioli)
This is a great store cupboard lunch. The fresh onion, parsley and lemon really transform it into a salad that has zing and tastes of spring, even though the main ingredients are tinned.
- 1 x 200g tin tuna, smoked or plain in olive oil
- 1 x 400g tin cannellini or butter beans (the large round Italian or Spanish butter beans)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
- finely-chopped parsley
- finely-chopped mild onion
- Open the tins and drain. Tip contents into a bowl.
- In an empty jam jar, add the lemon juice, olive oil and garlic and shake well.
- Add the dressing to the bowl and gently stir in the finely-chopped onion.
- Scatter parsley on top and eat with crusty bread.
- 1 onion
- 1 green capsicum
- glug of oil
- 450g beef steak mince (optional)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tin kidney beans
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- salt and pepper
- 300ml boiling water
- Roughly chop the onion and capsicum.
- Cook the mince in a medium saucepan on a high heat with the oil until browned. Add the onion, garlic and tomato paste and stir well. Cook for another minute or two.
- Then add the tinned tomatoes and beans, spices and chopped capsicum and stir well.
- Pour in the water, bring back to the boil and simmer gently for half an hour until the amount of liquid has reduced by approximately one third (and the mince is cooked if using).
- Check the seasoning, and serve with tacos, sour cream and grated cheese.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag #coromandelflavour – I love to see what you’ve been making and any feedback is really welcome.