Like my series of new products I’m going to try, I thought I’d do a small series of foods that I try to incorporate more into my diet. These foods are high in nutrition and affordable making them good for a family or even a student like me.
So what’s the first one? Beans!
You know growing up, I didn’t eat a lot of beans. We had baked beans, three-bean salad (which had kidney beans) and added kidney beans to our chili recipe, but other than that, green beans and wax beans were the only beans and their nutritional profile is different. See green beans are a vegetable. They are very good for you and like all vegetables are not a bad thing at all to have in your diet. The beans I’m talking about though are black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, white beans, etc. These are legumes and not only are starchy and have carbohydrates, they are a great source of protein.
A half of a cup is about 125 calories, 9 grams of protein, 5.5 grams of fiber (about 20% of your daily needs) and high in calcium, folate, manganese and iron.
However, I didn’t start eating beans regularly until I went to culinary school. There was a cute Italian restaurant in Rhinebeck, NY called Gigi’s Trattoria. It had fabulous food and a cozy atmosphere. I also was a weekly regular so I knew the staff and had no problems going some Sundays sitting in the corner with a book and eating a variety of contorni (or sides) for dinner. My favorites were the roasted vegetables (like these) and the white beans.
Here’s my quick and easy recipe for the white beans. While they do cook for a bit, it’s a great one pot recipe for a Sunday that you can reheat throughout the week with some vegetables or as a side with chicken or pork.
Braised White Beans (serves 4 as a side dish)
1 cup of white beans
3 thin carrots
1/2 medium onion
3-5 garlic cloves
bunch of thyme
1 bay leaf
rosemary for reheating (optional)
1. Put the white beans in a bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight.
2. The next day, drain the beans and put them into a dutch oven.
3. Peel the carrots and trim the ends. Cut the onion half into about 5 large sections so it’s sliced, but not thinly.
4. Put the vegetables into the pot along with the garlic cloves, thyme and bay leaf.
5. Cover the beans, vegetables and herbs with water by about 2-3 inches.
6. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower to a simmer.
7. Simmer for about an hour or until the beans are soft.
8. Drain the beans into a salad spinner if you have one or two separate bowls. You want to keep the liquid they cooked in. I like the salad spinner because the basket holds the beans which you can lift straight from the bowl where the liquid will go to.
9. Discard the thyme branches and bay leaf. You can pick out the onion, carrot and garlic if you’d like and save them for reheating or leave them in; it’s up to you. I personally take them out, mash them and add them to the liquid for reheating.
10. To reheat, add a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of beans into a small pan with about 1/2 – 1 cup of the reserved liquid. Heat over medium heat and lightly simmer, stirring a little bit, until the beans absorb most of the liquid and looks creamy. Season with salt, pepper, and some chopped rosemary.
Do you like beans? What are your favorite ways of eating them? While these are one of my favorites, I do love a big bowl of rice and beans 🙂 That recipe will be coming soon too…