5 Things To Do With Your Stockpile Of Beans

First things first: The Facebook Q&A we did last week was so fun that we're doing it again (people asked really awesome questions; here's a taste). Here's the deal, same as before: This Thursday, April 2nd, from 3pm to 5pm EST, I'll be on Facebook answering whatever questions you might have about cooking in this strange, scary moment that we're in (or just cooking in general). All you need to do is go to my Facebook page, find the post called "Ask Bittman," and type your questions in the comments section; I'll respond there as quickly and as usefully as I can, and if there are any questions I can't answer right away, I'll do my best to address them there and on Heated in the coming days.

There was some bean talk in last week's thread, and with good reason. If you stocked your pantry with beans (as so many of us did), then by now you might fall into one of two categories: 1) You've been cooking with them like crazy, are getting kind of bored, and need some new ideas. 2) You haven't even dipped into your supply yet and could use some inspiration or, at the very least, a nudge in the right direction.

If you're starting with canned beans, all you need to do is drain and rinse them and you're good to go. Dried beans, obviously, need to be cooked first; here is the quick-soak method I use, which is the easiest way to cook beans from scratch. Another resource that might come in handy (for these recipes, or anything that you're cooking in the days of semi-house-arrest) is this interchangeable ingredients list, which I've shared here before. Basically, it gives you some ingredient alternatives for when a recipe calls for something that you don't have; now that we can't count on going to the grocery store whenever we want (or finding what we need once we're there), this is probably happening more and more often. It's also worth mentioning that when it comes to the recipes below, beans are totally interchangeable, so feel free to use whatever kind you have on hand.

Here are the five that I picked, all of which are pretty quick and easy once you have cooked or canned beans ready to go. 1) Black Bean Tostada, which is one of the best possible uses of canned black beans (you spike them with cumin and chili powder), and store-bought tortillas. 2) Swiss Chard with White Beans and Pancetta (or Bacon). If you don't have (or don't like) chard, use kale, collards, even bok choy. You can eat this on its own, but this is a time for comfort food; serve it with toasted bread or toss it with pasta. 3) Mixed Bean Soup or Stew, which is one of those super satisfying "use whatever the hell you've got" recipes. It also make great leftovers, so if you're stuck at home and need lunch for the next day, this is a go-to. 4) Mussels in Tomato-White Bean Sauce. Let me just say that pretty much anything will taste incredible in a mixture of tomatoes, white beans, garlic, and copious amounts of olive oil. If you can't find mussels, it could be shrimp. If you can't find shrimp, it could be chunks of any white fish. If you can't find anything that comes from the sea, just eat it with crusty bread. 5) Northern Beans with Spanish Chorizo is kind of a glorified addition to a tapas menu, but the combination (white beans, chorizo, olive oil and parsley) is about as simple and good as it gets.

I'd be happy to cook any (or all) of these for dinner this week, and even just reading through them is a good way to get those bean juices flowing. Whatever you're making, hope you enjoy it, and see you Friday.


Whether you're starting with cooked dried beans, or canned, we've got you covered.


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Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.