EatingWell's Middle Eastern Chickpea platterWhen I was a vegan college student trying to get enough protein and calories on a tight budget, almost every meal I whipped up started with beans-vegan chili, vegan burritos, vegan pasta and beans (you get the idea). Now that I'm a busy working mom and a more creative cook, I still embrace the convenience and healthfulness of canned beans.
I mash black beans with salsa for quick tostadas or toss chickpeas with pesto, artichoke hearts and whole-wheat spaghetti for a family-friendly pasta. I feel good knowing that beans are a high-quality source of protein and a good source of heart-healthy dietary fiber. A typical 1⁄2-cup serving provides about 7 grams of protein and up to 7 grams of fiber.
5 budget-friendly bean recipes:
1. Middle Eastern Chickpea Platter- This recipe combines the flavors of two Middle Eastern favorites-hummus and baba ganouj-in one easy dish. Serve it family-style, letting diners take their own favorite combination of ingredients. Serve with tabbouleh or a green salad tossed with lemon vinaigrette.
2. BBQ Baked Beans & Sausage- Here we turn baked beans into an easy main dish by adding chicken sausage and collard greens. Serve with coleslaw and cornbread.
3. Summer Squash & White Bean Sauté- Bountiful summer vegetables-zucchini, summer squash, fresh tomatoes-are quickly sautéed with protein-rich white beans and topped with Parmesan for a hearty dish. This sauté is endlessly versatile and works well with eggplant, peppers or corn. Double it and toss the leftovers with bowtie pasta for lunch the next day. Serve over brown rice or bulgur.
4. Collard Green & Black-Eyed Pea Soup- Though we love the smoky flavor bacon brings to this collard green and black-eyed pea soup, you can leave it out and substitute vegetable broth for a great vegetarian dish.
5. Our Tijuana Torta-a Mexican-style sandwich filled with mashed beans, crispy cabbage and guacamole-can be made in a flash, tossed in a basket and enjoyed for a weeknight picnic. Serve with grilled corn on the cob or Spanish rice.
Active time: 25 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate the bean mixture (Step 1) for up to 3 days.
1 15-ounce can black beans or pinto beans, rinsed (see Note)
3 tablespoons prepared salsa
1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeño
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 ripe avocado, pitted
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 16- to 20-inch-long baguette, preferably whole-grain
1 1/3 cups shredded green cabbage
1. Mash beans, salsa, jalapeño and cumin in a small bowl. Mash avocado, onion and lime juice in another small bowl.
2. Cut baguette into 4 equal lengths. Split each piece in half horizontally. Pull out most of the soft bread from the center so you're left with mostly crust. Divide the bean paste, avocado mixture and cabbage evenly among the sandwiches. Cut each in half and serve.
Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 354 calories; 9 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 60 g carbohydrate; 17 g protein; 17 g fiber; 682 mg sodium; 639 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Folate & Vitamin C (29% daily value), Potassium (18% dv), Iron (15% dv).
3 Carbohydrate Servings
Exchanges: 3 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 plant-based protein, 1 fat
Note: While we love the convenience of canned beans, they tend to be high in sodium. Give them a good rinse before adding to a recipe to rid them of some of their sodium (up to 35 percent) or opt for low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties. (These recipes are analyzed with rinsed, regular canned beans.) Or, if you have the time, cook your own beans from scratch. You'll find our Bean Cooking Guide at eatingwell.com/guides.
By Stacy Fraser
Stacy Fraser is Test Kitchen manager at EatingWell. With a background in ecological agriculture and many past growing seasons under her belt, Stacy began her study of food in the field, literally. Before joining the crew at EatingWell, Stacy managed the kitchen of breakfast and lunch hot spot Penny Cluse, in downtown Burlington, Vermont, where she learned how to make simple, delicious food from fresh ingredients.
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