Beans of the World – with Recipes

pink beans, chicken, wanluts & orange

Pink beans with chicken, walnuts and orange

It’s hard to find a food that has traveled as well as the little legume. In ancient times, its portability made it a staple of travelers, explorers and conquerors. In modern times, these nutritional powerhouses have opened up a world of ethnic cookery for health-conscious cooks.
In India, cooks season chickpeas, colorful lentils and tiny split peas with homemade curries, fennel, ginger and fiery chilies. Caribbean cooks enjoy a kaleidoscope of beans and season them with peppers, thyme and onions. In France’s Languedoc region, the humble bean rises to haute status in the cassoulet, a melange of duck and sausage braised slowly with buttery white beans.
“The preference for beans in various countries today derives largely from the history of their cultivation,” wrote the editors of The Bean Book: Over Seventy Incredible Recipes
. Medical research has found legumes to be an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, and they’re rich in the B vitamins, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. They are also more than 20 percent protein by dry weight. As plants, they have no cholesterol, essentially no fat and very few calories. f your bean cuisine is limited to a few black and white varieties, today’s ethnic grocery-store guide should open your home cupboard to a new world of legumes.


Adzuki beans (azuki beans): Tiny red beans that develop a soft texture and sweet flavor when cooked. Mostly used by Asian cooks for making sweet bean paste and desserts.
Black beans (turtle beans, frijoles negros): A staple food in Latin American, Caribbean and Brazilian cooking but also used extensively in many Asian dishes, they make wonderful soup, refried beans and sauces. These are the basis for Cuban black bean soup and a Hispanic rice dish called congri.
Black-eyed peas (cowpeas, field peas, Jerusalem peas): White legumes with a black spot on each bean. They are great in salads or as a side dish with rice.
Cannellini: Large, kidney-shaped white beans preferred by Italian cooks. The beans are often used in minestrone soup and bean dips.
Chickpeas (garbanzos, ceci): Tan in color, about the size of a hazelnut. Popular in Middle Eastern dishes as well as Indian and Latin specialties, they form the basis of dishes such as hummus, falafel and couscous.
Cranberry beans: Small beige ovals with pink spots, they are great in casseroles and soups. These beans are a favorite in northern Italy and Spain.
Fava (broad beans): Large, flat and uneven beans that develop a granular texture and earthy, slightly bitter flavor when cooked. Used extensively in Mediterranean cooking, fava beans are also the basis of a Middle Eastern vegetarian croquette sandwich called falafel.
Flageolets: Tiny, tender French kidney beans range in color from pale green to creamy white. A classic accompaniment to lamb.
Great Northern: The biggest of the white beans, they are kidney-shaped with a mild flavor and popular in American Midwest cookery.
Kidney beans: These beans come in many colors from red to white. They are great in chili, soups and on their own.
Lentils: Tiny beans available in many colors but come just one to a pod. The flat beans develop a soft texture and distinctive, musky flavor when cooked. Lentils are available in a variety of colors including dusty brown, bright orange or green. Lentils are important in cuisines all over the world, including Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Add lentils to soups, salads, stews and braised dishes with meat or vegetables.
Lima beans (Fordhooks, butter beans): Flat beans that range in color from white to pale green to mottled red and white. A small version of the lima bean, which is slightly round instead of flat, is sold as a baby lima. Large limas are most often called butter beans. Lima beans develop a soft texture and mild, starchy flavor when cooked. The legumes are important in cuisines all over the world, including South America, where the bean originated. In Peru, lima beans are often toasted, salted and eaten like peanuts for a snack.
Mung beans: Small cylindrical, dark green beans that develop a pleasantly soft texture and slightly sweet flavor when cooked. Mung bean sprouts are used extensively in Asian cooking, and whole or split beans are a favorite ingredient in Indian dal and legume curries.
Pigeon peas: Medium-sized, round gray-brown beans that develop a firm texture and distinctive slightly bitter flavor when cooked. Pigeon peas are a staple food in the Bahamas and Caribbean, where they are served as a side dish with rice. Pigeon peas are also called gunga peas or gandules in Spanish. In Africa, pigeon peas often are cooked into a succotash with corn, chilies and curry. Ground pigeon peas also are made into West African croquettes called akara. Available in Latin American, West Indian and Indian markets.
Pinto beans: The most popular bean in the United States, and, in fact, they are the fiber champs of the legume family. When dried they look as if they have been painted with red and tan specks.
Red beans: A favorite in the classic Southern dish known as red beans and rice.
Soybeans: A staple food in Asia, they often are called the “cow of the East.” Soybeans can be eaten fresh and dried, made into baby formula, and their oil is used in salad dressings and margarine. Soy protein is widely used as a meat substitute and to enrich such foods as pasta and cereal. Soybeans have very little flavor of their own so they can be used with other ingredients that have strong flavors.
Split peas: Great for soups because they cook quickly and have a distinctive taste. Split peas also make great purees and side dishes.

Pink Beans With Chicken Breasts, Oranges & Walnuts
Yield: 4 main-dish servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 medium-size onions, finely chopped
1 cup orange juice
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons medium-dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins
1 (15-ounce) can pink beans (see note)
1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 navel oranges, peeled, sections cut free from the membranes
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large saute pan or skillet over moderately high heat, bring oil to rippling. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until it just turns white, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
2. In the same pan, cook chopped onions, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and stir in the orange juice, broth, sherry, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, raisins. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the beans and simmer, covered, for 2 minutes more. Add the reserved chicken pieces, walnuts and orange sections and cook for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked.
3. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. With a fork, mash some of the beans and stir to thicken the gravy. Sprinkle with green onions and serve.
Recipe note: Pink beans are smooth, reddish-brown dried beans that are very popular in the Western United States. Pink beans are interchangeable with pinto beans in any dish.

Jamaican Peas and Rice
Makes 6 side dish servings

2 (16-ounce) cans black-eyed peas
4 cups coconut milk
2 cups long grain rice
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed through a press or minced
2 slices fresh hot red pepper, chopped or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili
2 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Drain black-eyed peas and set aside.

1. In a large saucepan, combine coconut milk, rice, thyme, red pepper, garlic, onions, slt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook 20 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.
2. Stir in black-eyed peas. Heat 2 to 3 minutes to warm peas. Serve hot.

winter beans with roasted vegetables

Winter beans and roasted vegetables

Winter Beans & Roasted Vegetables
Yield: 6 servings

Olive oil cooking spray
1 pound winter yellow squash (Hubbard, butternut and acorn), peeled, seeded, cut into 1 1/2 -inch pieces
2 large carrots, sliced
1 small parsnip, sliced
2 medium potatoes, unpeeled, halved and sliced
2 medium onions, cut into wedges
15-ounce can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit, cut into large pieces
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced parsley

1. Line large jellyroll pan with aluminum foil; spray with cooking spray. Combine fresh vegetables and beans on pan; spray generously with cooking spray, sprinkle with herbs and toss.
2. Bake uncovered in a 425 F oven until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes, adding dried fruit at the last 5 minutes.
3. Spoon vegetable mixture into bowl. Mix vinegar and oil; drizzle over vegetables, add parsley and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grilled or roasted turkey, chicken, lean beef or pork. Any kind of colored beans can be used.

Italian White Bean Salad

Italian white bean salad in pepper

Italian White Bean Salad
Yield: 4 servings.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
Italian seasoning to taste
19 ounces cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1. In skillet, over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion; cook and stir until it starts to brown, 4 minutes. Add Italian seasoning to taste, cook about 30 seconds longer.
2. Gently fold mixture into beans.
Recipe note: Stuff into 4 medium hollowed tomatoes for an edible serving presentation. Garnish with shredded Parmesan, if desired.


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