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Beans are the edible seeds of plants from the legume family. A staple of many a global cuisine, dried beans and lentils are amazingly versatile. They come in many different colors, shapes and sizes. They lend themselves wonderfully into a variety of main or side dishes. For the creative cook, their ability to absorb the flavors of the other foods means that they can be used as the base for an infinite array of dishes. In this page they are infused with herbs and vegetables and puréed or mashed to be served as a spread.

Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber and are low in fat though loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. The dried beans store very well in the pantry and the canned ones are convenient stand-bys, since they require no soaking or cooking. When using canned beans for the recipes here, choose ones that do not have any added sugar and drain and rinse well. Most of the recipes here call for a can of a particular bean, but freshly cooked beans are always better and can be substituted instead.


1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
1-2 medium cloves of garlic
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup of Tahini
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin(optional)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Preparation: Put all ingredients and blend until nice and smooth. Sprinkle a little bit of paprika and a tiny bit of olive oil on top before serving. This is a authentic middle eastern version of hummus. The table below gives a few variations on this classic.

Variations Preparation
Sun dried tomato hummus Combine 1/3 cup of oil packed sun dried tomatoes and half a teaspoon dried italian herbs to the basic hummus recipe and blend.
Black bean hummus Add half a can of black beans with a teaspoon of crushed red pepper and 2 tablespoons each of fresh parsley and cilantro to the base recipe and blend well.
Cilantro hummus Add a cup of loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves with a small green chilli (optional) and blend with the basic hummus recipe.

Kidney bean spread

1 can kidney beans drained
1 medium red onion chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 clove garlic crushed
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon canola oil
salt to taste
Preparation: Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and stir to toast it evenly. Then add the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli powder and cook till almost done. Add tomato paste and 3 tablespoons of water and cook till well done. Mash the kidney beans or add it to the tomato mixture and combine. Cool and add chopped cilantro if you like. Variation to this recipe can be done by substituting the following beans in the place of the kidney beans.

  • Black beans
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Pink beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Black eyed beans
  • Butter beans

Cooking beans:
There are two popular methods of cooking beans. They are pressure cooking and boiling them in a saucepan with water until done. I prefer and use only the pressure cooker since it is way more quicker and with great retention of nutrients and flavors. Beans that would normally take a couple of hours in the pot can be done in 15 minutes to perfection. Click here to compare different models of pressure cookers.
Bean Tips:
Beans can be cooked and then frozen to use later for up to 6 months.
After cooking and when cooling, keep the beans in their cooking liquid to prevent them from drying out.
Know your beans:
Click here for pictures and information on common beans and legumes.

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