Simple and Tasty Side Dishes Starring Beans

What is your favorite side dish? A grain, a green, or a bean? If you opt for the last option, then you’re in luck, because we’re rounding up the best bean side dish recipes found around the web. Not only are beans full of fiber and protein, they also help lower cholesterol. Low in calories and loaded in taste, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be fitting beans into many of your meals, especially when they’re so inexpensive. There are also a variety of beans to choose from including black beans, navy beans, white beans, and kidney beans. We’re featuring these legumes in some delicious side dishes. Choose your favorite and get to cooking.

1. Greens and Beans with Garlic

Orecchiette pasta with greens, turnip tops.

White beans with wilted greens | iStock.com

Get ready for some greens and beans with this recipe featured on Epicurious. Greens might not always be your dish of choice, but when they’re sauteed with oil, garlic, and crushed pepper, you may change your mind. This green dish is also studded with white cannellini beans, which are buttery and full of flavor on their own. Garlicky greens and beans is the perfect side to serve alongside meat or carbs, as the dish is healthy without feeling like a hassle.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 large bunch greens (such as spinach, mustard greens, kale, or broccoli rabe — about 1 pound), thick stems removed, spinach left whole, other greens cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 cup (or more) vegetable broth or low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini, rinsed, drained
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) Sherry wine vinegar

Directions: Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and dried crushed pepper; stir until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute. Add greens by large handfuls; stir just until beginning to wilt before adding more, tossing with tongs to coat with oil.

Add 1 cup broth, cover, and simmer until greens are just tender, adding more broth by tablespoonfuls if dry, 1 to 10 minutes, depending on type of greens. Add beans; simmer uncovered until beans are heated through and liquid is almost absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and more vinegar if desired; drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and serve.

2. Baked Beans with Burnt Ends

beans

Baked beans in a crock | iStock.com

If you’re craving BBQ at your next meal, make some beans to go alongside the brisket. These baked beans with burnt ends from Every Day with Rachael Ray are the ticket, as they take the traditional side dish up a notch and add bacon. These beans will take only 20 minutes to make, and they might even steal the spotlight from the meat. The recipe for these baked beans with burnt ends serves 8.

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons pickle juice
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans pork and beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups chopped burnt ends from brisket, or chopped ham

Directions: In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, ketchup, pickle juice and dry mustard and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the pork and beans, pinto beans and burnt ends; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 10 minutes.

3. Homemade Refried Beans

refried beans

Mexican refried beans in a skillet | iStock.com

Moving away from the BBQ and toward the Mexican, we come to this recipe featured on Serious Eats for homemade refried beans. Instead of heating refried beans from a can, make your own. Homemade refried beans are much more flavorful and satisfying than the canned variety, and they couldn’t be easier. They require only 20 minutes of active time, and the majority of the cooking time goes to simmering the dried beans until tender. If you’ve never cooked your beans from scratch, you’re missing out, but at least now you have the recipe and no reason not to.

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound dried pinto or black beans
  • Water
  • 2 sprigs fresh epazote (see note above) or oregano
  • 1 medium white onion, ½ minced, ½ left whole
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons lard, bacon drippings, vegetable oil, or butter

Directions: In a large pot, cover the beans with cold water by at least 2 inches. Add herb sprigs, the whole onion half, and garlic cloves and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until beans are very tender, about 1 to 2 hours. Season with salt. Drain beans, reserving bean-cooking liquid. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans; if you have more, measure out 3 cups of beans and reserve the rest for another use. Discard herb sprigs, onion, and garlic.

In a large skillet, heat lard, bacon drippings, or oil until shimmering, or butter until foaming, over medium-high heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of reserved bean-cooking liquid. Using bean masher, potato masher, or back of a wooden spoon, smash the beans to form a chunky purée; alternatively, use a stick blender to make a smoother purée. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until desired consistency is reached; if refried beans are too dry, add more bean-cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed. Season with salt and serve.

4. Black Bean Salad with Scallions

Source: iStock

Hearty bean salad | iStock.com

Salads don’t have to be all about the greens. Sometimes, they’re all about the beans. This recipe for black bean salad with scallions from Food & Wine is devoid of green but still full of healthy nutrients thanks to the soluble fiber and protein from the beans. In this dish, the black beans are tossed with cilantro, scallions, lime juice, hot sauce, cumin, and honey, yielding a flavorful bean salad that looks simple but tastes sophisticated.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

Directions: In a medium mixing bowl, toss together the beans, cilantro, scallions, lime juice, olive oil, hot sauce, honey, salt, and cumin until combined. Taste for seasoning.

Transfer to a platter and serve alongside tacos or simple grilled chicken.

5. White Bean Sauté

White Beans

Dried white beans | iStock.com

White beans are up next. Cook them with onion, garlic, white wine, and fresh tarragon, and enjoy. This recipe comes from She Wears Many Hats, and it makes 3 to 4 servings. The side dish is simple but refined and it’ll look good on your dinner table. A tasty white bean saute can complement any main meal, but it works especially well with chicken, fish, or beef.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, rough chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 ounces canned cannellini beans
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons white wine

Directions: Begin by heating the olive oil in a sauté pan or skillet over medium heat.

When the oil is ready, add the chopped onion and garlic, and sauté for about 5-7 minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. Adjust the heat if necessary.

Next, add the white beans, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Sauté for another 3-5 minutes or so. When sautéing the beans, use a gentle hand so as not to mash the beans up to mush.

When the pan begins to dry up, add the white wine. Continue to sauté for another four minute or five minutes, or six minutes… or however long it takes for the wine to reduce down and the beans to be cooked to your liking.

6. Curried Chickpea Salad

opened can of garbanzo chick peas on a wooden table

Can of chickpeas | iStock.com

Garbanzo beans aren’t only for hummus. They perform well on their own, too, especially when flavored with a curry dressing that is made from a combination of tahini, turmeric, curry powder, and maple syrup. In this curried chickpea salad from Hummusapien, you have your chickpeas, herbs, veggies, and raisins, and that cocktail of sweet and savory flavors makes this a side dish you won’t soon forget. The recipe serves 4 and makes the perfect amount of leftovers.

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup cashews, chopped

Directions: Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Place salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to combine.

7. Fava Bean Soup

Pea soup with chia sprouts

Fava bean soup in a white bowl | iStock.com

Our last highlighted side dish is a soup. Fava bean soup, to be exact. Martha Stewart has a recipe that enlists the buttery beans in their own green glory by combining the beans, Parmesan cheese, chicken stock, and onion.  If you need a new soup in your recipe repertoire, this appetizing and aesthetically-pleasing one is the bowl for you. Serve this fava bean soup as a side or make it with bread and a salad, and you have yourself a fibrous and protein-packed meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2½ cups chicken stock
  • 2½ cups blanched, peeled fava beans
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • Lemon juice

Directions: Saute onion in olive oil. Season with salt. Stir in chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. Add fava beans. Simmer until tender. Stir in Parmesan. Puree. Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

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