Often overlooked as a boring old staple, beans (and their little cousins in the legume family, lentils) can be downright fantastic when cooked with respect and imagination
January 9, 2016
| Updated April 28, 2020
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Simple Pot-Cooked Beans (Frijoles de la Olla)
Basic but delicious, this is how beans are cooked all over Mexico. The fresher your dried beans, the better the results. The dish is especially sensational garnished with our Fried Ricotta with Epazote and Green Chile (as pictured).
We learned how to make these earthy, toasty snacks in rural Hidalgo, Mexico. They take a little while, but are fun to do and definitely worth it. Plus, you can make them ahead and freeze. Heat them up in the oven and top with fresh salsa and cheese.
The Mexican cook who made this simple, crunchy-creamy salad used ayocote blanco—large, starchy white runner beans, but any white bean would work well. Serve this with grilled or braised meats, or as part of a vegetarian spread.
A thrifty, homey, much-loved dish from Mexico, enfrijoladas are often nothing more than tortillas dipped in a sauce made from leftover beans. This one is gussied up with spicy chorizo sausage and laced with cream and onions.
A creamy black-bean paste fills these homemade tostadas, which are then topped with spicy chicken. It’s a bit of a project, but the panuchos are totally delicious, and will impress anyone who eats them.
Here’s a fast little something we threw together for a weeknight dinner, using canned white beans. The creamy, mild beans paired very well with the bitter snap of the chicory greens, and we loved it so much we make it on weekends, too.
The large yellow limas called butter beans—available canned in your grocery store, or you can cook them from dried—are especially good in this one-pan dish. Gigantes, the big fat Greek beans, would be great too, or scarlet runner beans.
This simple, Italian-style soup of greens and beans may well become your new weeknight staple. You can use practically any fresh greens, canned beans, parmesan or other hard cheese, and broth—chicken, beef, vegetable, even water. Think of it as a basic formula rather than a recipe.
Black beans plus fork-tender pork shoulder, bacon, chorizo sausage, a good pour of whiskey, and feisty chipotle chiles simmer together for hours. It’s exactly what you want after a day outdoors in chilly weather.
A Native American heirloom from the Southwestern U.S., tepary beans are tiny—they almost look like lentils—and have a hint of sweetness that makes them seamless with fennel. Try it and expand your bean repertoire!
Fresh from the spring market or your own garden, tender sweet fava beans taste wonderful on fresh ricotta. An easy homemade cracker completes the dish. Serve it as an appetizer with glasses of chilled sauvignon blanc, or even as a first course on a shared platter.
You can use any lentil here, from tiny black Beluga to firm green French lentils to regular brown ones. Paired with the fresh Indian cheese called paneer (or you can use tofu), it’s an excellent vegetarian dinner.