Beans have long been known as pantry MVPs. Joe Yonan, a lifelong bean evangelist and author of “Cool Beans,” wants you to see beyond their status. Beans are not just a humble side dish; they are incredibly versatile and nutritious. In his book, Yonan celebrates the diversity of beans and presents unique recipes that showcase their potential. Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply looking to explore new flavors, these recipes will inspire you to incorporate beans into your everyday cooking.
Beans: A World of Possibilities
“I’ve never met a bean I didn’t like,” says Joe Yonan, reflecting on his lifelong love affair with these legumes. Growing up in west Texas, he enjoyed beans as a Tex-Mex side dish. As a vegetarian, his appreciation for beans has only deepened. Beans have been a staple in many cultures for centuries, offering an array of flavors and textures. They are not only a source of protein but also classified as a vegetable by the USDA. Yonan even dares to declare beans as the world’s most important plant-based protein.
Expand Your Bean Horizons
While black beans, pintos, chickpeas, and cannellini beans are commonly known, Yonan encourages readers to broaden their range and try some lesser-known varieties. Here are a few examples:
- Gigante Beans : These large, creamy, and meaty beans are perfect for casseroles, stews, and dips.
- Black Chickpeas : Known for their nutty flavor and ink-color skin, these beans are often sold as ceci neri in Italian stores or kala chana in Indian markets.
- Christmas Lima Beans : With a lightly sweet flavor reminiscent of chestnuts, these purple-speckled beans are a great addition to salads.
- Adzuki Beans : Originating from Asia, these little red beans have a smooth texture and sweet flavor, making them suitable for desserts and sweets.
Delicious Bean-Based Recipes
Joe Yonan’s “Cool Beans” features over 100 recipes that highlight the versatility of beans. Here are seven mouthwatering recipes to get you started:
Random House’s Random Pantry: Joe Yonan’s Kidney Bean and Poblano Tacos
1. Mushroom-Kidney Bean Burgers
For a burger that’s incredibly meaty and doesn’t crumble or dry out when cooked, Yonan suggests chopping and mixing the ingredients by hand. The addition of nutritional yeast provides a cheesy, umami-rich flavor. Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, these burgers are sure to satisfy.
2. Cumin-Roasted Carrots, Onions, and Lemons with Bean Spread
This Greek-inspired dish combines roasted vegetables with a garlicky puree of gigante beans (or limas if gigante beans are unavailable). The honey-sweetened roasted veggies are served on flatbread, making it an interactive appetizer for your next party.
3. Falafel Fattoush
Get all the flavors of a falafel wrap without the frying. This Middle Eastern bread salad features spiced chickpeas, creamy tahini sauce, and pita. By giving it the sheet-pan treatment, you can enjoy a healthier version of this beloved dish.
4. Cuban-Style Orange-Scented Black Beans
Infused with the flavors of a sofrito, a sauté of onion, tomato, garlic, and aromatics, these citrusy black beans offer a taste of Latin American cuisine. Yonan suggests using a pressure cooker for convenience, but they can also be simmered or baked for equally delicious results.
5. Ratatouille Cassoulet
Two iconic French dishes come together in this delectable recipe. Layer summer vegetables, crispy bread crumbs, and white beans simmered in tomato sauce, and bake until the dish is bubbly and the top is browned and crusty. The aromas emanating from your kitchen will be irresistible.
6. Enfrijoladas with Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Onions
Enfrijoladas are like no-bake enchiladas for bean-lovers. Smothered in a pinto or black bean puree, these tortillas are topped with sweet potato chunks and caramelized onions. Feel free to add chicken, cheese, or ground beef for a heartier version.
7. Tacu Tacu (Peruvian Beans and Rice)
A popular dish in Peru, Tacu Tacu is a pancake made from leftover rice and canary beans. Yonan prefers pan-frying one large cake that can be cut into wedges. A spicy onion salsa adds a delightful contrast to the creamy beans.
Explore the World of Beans
If these few recipes have piqued your interest and you’re ready to incorporate beans into almost every meal, Joe Yonan’s “Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most VersatilePlant-Based Protein” is the perfect resource for you. With over 125 recipes, this book offers a comprehensive guide to cooking with beans and explores their endless possibilities.
Beans are not just a pantry staple; they are a culinary powerhouse. Joe Yonan’s “Cool Beans” cookbook invites you to embrace the diversity and versatility of beans. From burgers to salads, casseroles to desserts, beans can elevate any dish with their unique flavors and textures. So, grab a can or a jar of beans from your pantry and embark on a bean-filled culinary adventure. Your taste buds will thank you.
Published on August 19, 2020