How a Food Editor Turns a Can of Beans Into the Most Comforting Dinner Once a Week|Recipes Spots

  • on August 31, 2023
How a Food Editor Turns a Can of Beans Into the Most Comforting Dinner Once a Week

Braised white beans in a casserole dish
Simply Recipes / Myo Quinn

While I enjoy the reward that comes from slowly simmering dried beans until they’re perfectly tender and swimming in a savory broth, the process requires time and foresight—both of which I don’t always have.

What I do always have is canned beans.

And while it’s hard to beat the taste and texture of beans cooked from dried, you can come dangerously close by braising canned beans in olive oil. The grassy oil soaks into the beans to make them ultra creamy while also ridding them of any lingering tinned flavor from the can. They become soft, silky, and a meatless meal in itself when paired with crusty bread on the side. It’s a quick trick I turn to regularly that transforms the humble staple into a comforting meatless main or hearty side. 

beans, rosemary, and garlic in a white casserole dish
Simply Recipes / Myo Quinn

How to Braise Canned Beans

If you have a couple of cans of beans, olive oil, and an aromatic or two like garlic or a rosemary sprig, then you have everything you need to make this cozy dish:

To make braised beans, drain and rinse two cans of your favorite beans. I like to use chickpeas or white beans, but any variety will do—black beans, pinto, or kidney beans are great choices, too.

Place the beans in a 9×13-inch or other 3-quart baking dish and add a few smashed and peeled garlic cloves and a couple of sprigs of a woody herb like rosemary, sage, or thyme. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds of black pepper, pour 3/4 cup olive oil in, and stir to combine.

Tightly cover the dish with foil and cook at 325ºF, stirring halfway through, until the mixture is bubbling and the beans are soft but not yet falling apart, about 40 minutes. Uncover, stir in a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of red wine vinegar, taste and season for additional salt and pepper, and serve warm or at room temperature.

white beans, rosemary, garlic, and lemon in a white casserole dish
Simply Recipes / Myo Quinn

How To Serve Braised Beans

My favorite way to enjoy these beans is at the center of a cozy meatless dinner. I bring the whole casserole dish to the table and serve it family-style with slices of thick toast so that everyone can scoop the oily beans onto the bread.

Paired with a green salad, it’s a simple yet satisfying meal that I barely lifted a finger to make. The beans can also be served alongside roast chicken or grilled steak, used as a bed for fish or roasted vegetables, or even tossed with pasta.

The Endless Versatility of Braised Beans

Since this is more of a formula than a recipe, there are so many ways to make it your own. Experimenting is half of the fun with these braised beans.

  • Swap the garlic with sliced shallot or onion, use dried herbs instead of fresh, and try other citrus or vinegar like lime, balsamic vinegar, or sherry vinegar.
  • Stir in some tomato paste, harissa, pesto, curry paste, or chipotle in adobo before braising.
  • Add a Parmesan rind, thinly sliced lemon, a can of diced tomatoes, or a splash of coconut milk.
  • Rummage through your spice cabinet and sprinkle in spices and spice blends like cumin, za’atar, smoked paprika, chili powder, red pepper flakes, herbes de Provence, or garam masala.
Article Categories:
Salad · Spices

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