Beans are a pantry staple for a ton of reasons. They are inexpensive, easy to find, and a terrific source of protein, fiber, and nutrients. Better still, there is no shortage of recipes for using beans, given how versatile they are. You can have them for breakfast, make a soup or a salad with them for lunch, take full advantage of them in a beautiful pasta dish for a hearty dinner, and in between, create dips with them for entertaining or snacking.
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Easy never tasted so awesome.
Canned beans are especially nice to have on hand because you can swap them in for dried beans in any recipe (saving a whole lot of time). And the math couldn’t be easier: If you need 1 cup of dried beans, use 2 cups of canned beans. Genius.
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But what if you are sitting on a pantry full of canned beans and are starting to weary of your usual rotation of recipes? Here are 3 creative things to do with canned beans that might just be the ticket!
Creative use #1: Bake with them!
Did you know that you can sub in pureed canned beans for most of the fat in many baked goods? It’s a great way to sneak in extra fiber, especially for kids who are vegetable averse. I usually sub in half of the called-for fat for an equal amount of canned beans pureed with just enough water to make them super smooth, so if my recipe calls for a cup of butter or a cup of oil, I use half a cup of the fat and half a cup of bean puree. If the recipe is for a light-colored bake, like a vanilla cake, I will use white beans. For spice cakes like carrot or pumpkin, I will use light-red beans, and for chocolate, black beans, so that you don’t affect the color. Try these chocolate peppermint brownies to get you started with the proportions already done for you, then move on to this delicious brownie recipe and do the subbing yourself!
Speaking of baking, have you heard of aquafaba? The liquid from canned chickpeas has become a godsend for vegan baking that needed a substitute for egg whites. This magic liquid whips up into clouds that can be used much like whipped egg whites, a trick you can employ in this pomegranate chocolate pavlova.
Creative use #2: Roast them up for snacks!
At a time when we are all spending a lot of hours at home, the snack attack can be a day-long struggle. Canned beans stand by to save your sanity and your health. You can season them and roast them to crispy little nuggets that are terrific snacking all on their own, or as part of a mix with nuts. They can sub in for croutons as crunchy toppers on salad, or as a bit of extra texture on steamed vegetables or even as a replacement for crispy breadcrumbs on top of your casseroles. Try some basic roasted chickpeas, then these super-crispy gems, then these beauties with chili and lime.
Creative use #3: Use them to punch up your pesto!
As canned beans can sub in for fat when baking, they can sub in for nuts when making pesto. Magical, right? Bringing a creamy mouthfeel and some nutty flavor is a terrific substitution trick, and the math could not be easier: You can swap in all or some of the nuts in any pesto recipe with an equal amount of canned beans. Try this kale pesto with navy beans subbing for half of the pecans for a rich and delicious pesto that will be great on any pasta, stirred into rice, or on top of vegetables. For a double punch, use white beans in the sorrel pesto for this recipe and you’ll find the dish even more harmonious, and extra good for you.
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