Friday, June 10, 2011

beans in the pantry

Eden Organic Garbanzo Beans, No Salt Added, 15-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)
one of my favorites
One of the most versatile and accessible items to keep in the pantry is a can of beans. Actually, that should read many cans of many types of beans. The possibilities are almost endless. Beans can be added to breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus easily. They can be quickly turned into a snack or appetizer. They can be casual or dressed up as much as the occasion demands.

And, of course, most are gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free. Be careful when reading the labels; many canned beans are prepared with sugar or even starches. The sugar can be rinsed off, mostly anyway, in a pinch, but it's best to stick to brands that don't use it in the first place.

Right now in my pantry, you will find garbabzo beans, kidney beans, tiny white beans, pintos, limas, green beans, black beans, wax beans, and a few odd-ball varieties. And those are only the cans. I'll talk much more about dried and fresh beans soon. All it takes to turn these into creative additions to any table is a can opener and a little, very little,  imagination.

For years when I've needed a quick dish for a spur-of-the-moment potluck or  bbq,  I've turned to this bean salad. It's a standard at summer dinners and lunches at our house, travels well, can be made ahead with ease, and is really tasty. We are not fans at our house of the savory-sweet combo that so many love, so this is not an overly sweet salad. It has a hint of sweetness from the dressing that works beautifully with the beans. The quantities can easily be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, depending on the size group you're serving. Since this salad lasts so well, I often make a really large batch just to have in the refrigerator for snacking or to use as a quick meal.

almost-too-easy-to-admit bean salad
Newman's Own Salad Dressing, Balsamic Vinaigrette, 16-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 6)

1 can cut green beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 TBS dried onion flakes
4 to 6 ounces Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette

Rinse beans lightly and combine in bowl. Stir in onion flakes and dressing. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve. Gets even better as it sits.

You can, of course, make your own vinaigrette and chop fresh onions. I do so often, but make just as it is here, this is a very good dressing. This is what I've been serving family and friends for many years now, and I promise you, it has quite the following.

I'd love to hear ways each of you use beans from the pantry.


  1. i love that bean salad. i could so live off of it!

  2. Yumm Pam! I had this before @ a few of your gatherings & love it so much. Now I know your secret :) Sometimes I like to add a can of beans to a blue cheese salad. Ok, now I'm hungry!

  3. Thanks to both of you. It is one of our favorites for taste alone. Being so easy doesn't hurt in the least.

  4. If you want a fresh dressing for this, it's easy to do. Crush one clove garlic and macerate in 2 tablespoons balsamic and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt while you drain and rinse the beans.
    Whisk in about 3 to 4 ounces of good olive oil, add pepper to taste, and pour over beans and onion as in basic recipe. This is as close as I get to using processed ingredients, and it's only because it's very good.


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