How to Turn a Can of Beans Into a Meal
Canned beans don't always get the love they deserve. Easy to keep stocked in your pantry, plus incredibly versatile, canned beans should be used for more than just hummus or casseroles. When buying canned beans, be sure and opt for low-sodium or no salt added varieties to keep sodium levels in check.
Read below to find out how the Cooking Light team loves to prepare quick and healthy meals using canned beans.
One of the most obvious ways to enjoy beans is throwing them in a bowl with other ingredients. Put a Tex-Mex spin of things by pairing beans with Spanish or cilantro-lime rice, then just top with salsa, guacamole, and any extra veggies you may have sitting around. Or try a Jamaican twist by pairing kidney beans (or other bean varieties) with rice cooked in coconut milk, scallions, and half a Scotch bonnet pepper.
Forget avocado toast, bean toast is where it's at! Mash your favorite beans with spices before smearing on a thick piece of whole-wheat bread. Some of our favorite flavor combinations are black beans with Goya Adobo Seasoning, chickpeas with curry powder and turmeric, and red beans with chili powder and cumin.
Another obvious use for canned beans is chili. Combine with a sautéed onion, canned or fresh diced tomatoes, a dash of spices, and you're all set to eat. If you don't have tomato products on-hand (or don't like them) opt for white chili instead. Simply mix together a white bean variety, sautéed onion and garlic, spices, a splash of half-and-half, and any extras you like (we love adding shredded chicken, corn, and avocado).
One of the easiest (and tastiest) ways to eat beans is by throwing them on top of a baked potato. Choose your favorite spud and it's time to get creative. For sweet potatoes we like topping them with chickpeas and green onions tossed in sweet chili sauce, black beans mixed with corn and avocado, or navy beans with sautéed bacon and spinach. For white potatoes varieties (like russet or golden potatoes) some of our favorite toppers include pinto beans with salsa and Pepper Jack cheese, chickpeas with spicy tomato sauce and a fried egg, or cannellini beans with Parmesan cheese and steamed broccoli.
While at first glance curry may seem like a time consuming dish, there's an easy way to whip up a bean-based curry in a flash. Simply whisk together canned coconut milk and curry paste (taste as you go to get your preferred intensity) and simmer it for a few minutes with drained canned beans and your favorite vegetables. Serve as is, over rice, or on top of noodles.
Another ridiculously simple dinner option is a bean burrito. Toss your beans (we prefer pinto or black beans) with some Tex-Mex spices and salsa or canned tomatoes with green chilies. Pair that with other burrito favorites like rice, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and fresh veggies like corn or lettuce. Stuff everything in a whole-wheat tortilla and dinner is ready.