I remember the first time I ate authentic French food. I ordered a cassoulet and savored every bite of those flavorful little white beans, dozens of them, all perfectly nestled among chicken, sausages, vegetables, wine, tomatoes and herbs. If reincarnation was real, I wanted to come back French!
For this lifetime, though, I can at least cook all kinds of white beans myself, like navy beans, Cannellini beans (a relative of the kidney bean), lima beans, Great Northern beans and, of course, flageolets, the star of cassoulets.
Adding white beans to your menu plan adds good nutrition, versatility and ease. While cooking your own beans is always a noble option, for many people, time is of the essence! There are plenty of varieties of canned white beans available that don’t contain added preservatives and chemicals, Many are low in sodium and you’ll find organic varieties too. While popular in soups, white beans are just as delicious in spreads, dips, chili dishes, pasta and baked beans.
Here are some fun ideas to widen your world with white beans:
- Mash white beans with herbs, seasonings, tahini or a little olive oil and use as a sandwich spread or dip.
- Make white bean chili. This recipe for White Turkey Chili is just what I mean.
- Add white beans to vegetable or meat soups, or a favorite stew such as this Cassoulet-Style French Bean Stew.
- Eat them hot with your favorite seasonings, either on their own or as a side dish to grilled or roasted meats or your favorite vegetarian protein. Be sure to add plenty of fresh green veggies.
- Try our recipe for Classic Baked Beans.
- Toss white beans into hot cooked pasta. Great with sun-dried tomatoes, arugula or baby spinach, and sliced black olives! Try this idea for Whole Wheat Pasta with Mushrooms, White Beans and Arugula, and this idea for Greens, Mushroom and White Bean Ragoût.
- Next time you make pizza, consider a mixture of onions, peppers, olives, mushrooms and white beans as a topping. Of course, cheese is optional. This recipe for White Bean and Gorgonzola Topping would be great on pizza, perfect for bread or chips, or fabulous over ravioli or other pasta.
- Making red sauce for pasta or other Italian dish? Consider adding white beans.
- Try a white bean salad tossed with your favorite vinaigrette, or make a green salad and throw on a handful of cooked white beans. If you love Caesar salad, you may enjoy white beans along with or in place of croutons for a delicious treat. This White Bean Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing is great and here’s a delicious idea for White Bean and Spinach Salad.
- Add white beans to your tuna salad. Same for chicken salad, egg salad, and shrimp salad. Here’s a recipe for Tuna and White Bean Salad that uses baby lima beans, and this Tuna and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Gazpacho is super satisfying.
- Cook them up with your favorite sausage, veggie or meat-based.
- White beans are great with ham! They are also great with smoky tempeh “bacon.”
- Here’s how you Learn to Cook: White Beans.
For more information, check out our Guide to Beans
White beans are my very favorite! What about you? Got a winning white bean recipe? I’d love to know.