Easy Beans Recipe for the Novice Chef
Easy beans are the go-to 20-min meal of the week.
As the lead cook in the house, who also works, runs a side hustle, and also occasionally gets exhausted, there are times when I just can’t even…but I have to. For those nights, I make easy beans over rice. It’s a perfectly fine dish to eat alone, or serve with chxn (that’s faux chicken) for an added protein boost. It also works as a great side dish or topping for taco night.
“Rice is difficult.”
There are a lot of great rice recipes out there and in a later recipe I’ll share my tips and tricks for making perfectly edible white rice. Suffice it to say for now that I believe it is more about the stove than any choice the chef makes. More on that for another day. Make white rice the way you normally do, even if its 10-min boil-in-bag style. There’s no shame in that, especially on a night when you just…can’t…even…but you have to.
Let’s get a few things out of the way early…
“Beans are boring.”
“Your beans aren’t authentic.”
“Is that all vegetarians eat?”
To these I say, respectively “No,” “Probably,” and “I don’t know, they certainly make up a good deal of my home-cooked and take-out diet, and they have tons of vitamins, minerals, and protein that I need to balance my diet. (Please consult a nutritionist with concerns in this regard.) Vegetarians don’t eat them in exclusivity, and some vegetarians won’t eat them at all, but I do and you can too or don’t. Please stop asking me to speak for all vegetarians.”
Easy Beans Recipe
What do I need?
I’m in the habit of giving recipe information over as though I’m talking to someone who has barely used a kitchen, so please skip ahead if you feel you can.
I like to start with this because one too many times have I gotten halfway through actually cooking something before I realized I didn’t have a food processor, or an immersion blender, or a basting brush, or some kitchen utensil that was critical to the dish’s success. Until you’ve tried to smash boiled butternut squash through a sieve because your blender is made for shakes, not soup, you haven’t really whined about a recipe.
You need: A stove, a sink, a clean countertop. A cutting board and knife. A can opener. A strainer or colander (optional, for rinsing and straining canned beans.) A peeler. A sauce pot with lid. A mixing/serving spoon.
2 TBS olive or vegetable oil. 1 small yellow onion, 1/2 green bell pepper, 1 small white potato. 1/2 bunch of cilantro. 1 can of black, pink, red, or white beans (I prefer black or pink.) 14-oz can of tomato sauce. 1 1/2 cups of water, 2 TBS dried oregano. 1 TBS cumin. 1 TBS onion powder. 1/2 TBS salt. 1 TBS Adobo seasoning.
What to do:
Preparation: 1. Wash the pepper, potato, and rinse the cilantro. 2. Chop the onion and bell pepper to bean size. 3. Peel the potato and cut into 12–16 pieces. 4. Chop the cilantro — cut off the top 1/2 of the stems while the cilantro is still bundled. 5. Open the cans of tomato sauce and beans. 6. Rinse the beans x2 (shake well if straining in can, or use strainer or colander.
Now you’re ready to Cook. To be honest with you, I’ve made beans so many times that I tend to Prepare as I Cook, because I have a certain rhythm to my timing. If you’re new to chopping, peeling, or rinsing, I suggest you have everything prepared ahead of time.
Cooking: 1. Heat sauce pot over a Med heat and add 2 TBS of oil after 1 Minute. 2. Add and Sauté the onions and peppers with a pinch of salt until the onions look translucent, about 3–4 Minutes. Stir occasionally. 3. Add cilantro and stir for 1 Minute. 4. Add beans, tomato sauce, water and the seasonings. 5. Stir and bring to a low boil. 6. Drop heat to a simmer and Add potato. 7. Cook for 10–15 Minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potato is soft to the fork. Serve.
Easy beans are made to be just that — an easy solution to a dinner problem — to be added to or made the bulk of the meal — and to contribute to lunch-by-leftovers the next day. This means that you don’t need to worry about specific ingredients and can make loads of substitutions. Here are a few:
- Not a fan of bell pepper, or have none in the house? Chopped carrots (preferably fresh) are great. Or in a pinch, use a can of mixed vegetables, added when the beans and sauce are added.
- No fresh cilantro? Use dried cilantro, or use Goya’s Sofrito or Recaito. These glass jars of wonder are excellent savory bases for a lot of dishes and can help the beginner cook in so many amazing ways.
- Don’t like cilantro or have none in the house? Use Jamaican or Cajun seasoning, or BBQ sauce (minimally, and to taste, they can overwhelm beans easily.)
- No potato? No problem. The potato adds a bit of starch to thicken the stock and is a handy way of knowing when the beans are cooked and the seasonings have combined. Use only 1 cup of water if not using potato, and a sprinkle of corn starch for a similarly thickened effect.
- Like something with a touch more sweetness? We like the acidic taste of tomatoes, but if your house prefers a slightly sweeter sauce, stir in 2 TBS of ketchup in the last 2 Minutes of cooking. This serves to slightly thicken and slightly sweeten the beans.
Easy Beans are so Easy
-and tasty! and nutritious! and palate- and diet-friendly!
I sincerely hope even the most novice chefs feel comfortable whipping up a pot of beans after reading through this recipe, and tell me how it goes! I love hearing from friends about their meal successes and answering questions about substitutions and strategies.