Popular in Caribbean food and Mexican cuisine, black beans offer flexibility, reduced cooking time and cranberry-comparable antioxidant properties. They are also a food item that is still affordable when transitioning from conventional to organic food purchases.
When I make my shopping list for Whole Foods, I typically include the dried black beans available in their bulk bins. Once time and schedule permit, I cook up a large plain batch in my crock pot and freeze in separate canning jars. Then they are readily available to prepare any number of black bean recipes quickly and easily. Here are several of our family favorites.
Black Bean Soup Recipes
When it comes to hearty, homespun nutrition, black bean soup is pretty tough to beat. I like to toss some in a Southwest pumpkin soup for extra color. Itís a great autumn recipe to serve at a Halloween dinner party, and brings to exceptionally nutritious foods together in one dish. The Daily Green offers a delectable Caribbean black bean soup for those who enjoy the flavor of the islands, and Fat Free Vegan brings another tropical twist to the black bean soup table with this collard green and turtle bean soup.
Chili Recipes with Black Beans
Another cold-weather favorite, black bean chili brings spicy goodness to the crock pot meal table. Simply substitute black beans for your usual selection, or add them in along with the kidney and northern varieties for a three-bean version that will stick to your ribs. This black bean chili from Vegan Chef is a great potato topper, and this butternut squash chili with black beans from Bon Appetit is a colorful and refreshing alternative. Whatever black bean chili recipe you decide to go with, you can rest assured that youíll leave the table nourished and satisfied.
Dips and spreads are a great way to get more black beans into your diet.
If youíre looking for an expected autumn party food, try a homemade black bean hummus or this unique recipe for caramelized black bean butter paired with homemade crackers or vegetable sticks. Shewearsmanyhats.com has a clever twist on the typical pinto party platter with a layered black bean dip sure to capture the attention of your guests. For serious Southwest flavor however, cowboy caviar has what youíre craving. Itís spicy, hearty and simple enough to whip up at the last minute.
Black bean salsa and other side dishes featuring turtle beans are often overlooked.
Iím not sure why this is, but Iíve made it my mission make black bean salsa a more frequent guest on our dinner table. This can be as simple as mixing in some black beans and corn with an affordable store-bought salsa, or trying something more tropical like a mango and black bean salsa made with fresh jalapenos and dressed with lime.
Another simple black bean side dish is to mix the cooked beans with a small jar of hot pepper jelly. This takes the flavor to the next level, but doesnít require a ton of extra time in the kitchen. Pair it with shrimp tacos for a light summer meal you can feel confident serving to guests. Spicy coconut black beans are great vegan dinner side, and of course you can never go wrong with black beans and rice, as demonstrated in this article from the folks at 5 Dollar Dinners.
When it comes to summer side dishes, Iím all about the black bean salad. This summer salad from Skinny Taste combines black beans, corn, red onion and avocado in a flavorful explosion of nutrition that could easily be a meal in itself.
Accent your meals by using black beans.
Not only do black beans make super salad add-ins, they can be used to accent a number of other fun foods as well. Nachos, bruschetta, pizza and quesadillas are all recipes where the use of black beans adds pizzazz as well as protein. While Iíve only ever had black beans as a pizza topping, this recipe for black bean pizza uses a seasoned turtle bean puree as the actual pizza sauce, providing a sticky surface to hold on the other toppings.
Black bean brownies and other desserts benefit from the extra protein.
These healthy black bean brownies from the Happy Herbivore caught my attention as a way to experience decadence and calorie reduction at the same time. Donít you just love it when that happens? And while black bean brownies may be the most popular way to use black beans in a dessert, there are definitely other options as well. The Accidental Huswife serves black bean chocolate cake to his family with rave reviews while the Green Groat brings a creamy black bean chocolate mousse to the healthy dessert table. These are far from the only bean desserts out there, but represent some of the more unusual bean recipes I found that used black beans specifically.
Use black beans to stuff food items traditionally filled with meat.
This will sve you a serious amount of fat grams, not to mention money. Because black beans are so meaty in texture, they are well suited for use as a whole-food meat substitute. Stuff them in a wrap with some guacamole for an easy vegan sandwich, or make stuffed peppers with sauced black beans and rice. Both of these are easy ways to mix up your dinner menus without having to reinvent the wheel.
Hosting a brunch? Try some black bean breakfast burritos or citrusy black bean enchiladas with pineapple. Crispy black bean tacos are a great choice for vegetarians, and for those looking to explore nontraditional menu items, Eating Well offers these smashed black bean sandwiches with chipotle mayonnaise.
Black bean burgers and dinner patties swap out well with their beef counterparts.
This makes them great for Meatless Mondays, or when you have a veg friend coming over for a back yard barbecue. The Mayo Clinic has a great recipe for black bean veggie burgers with a spicy ketchup that is sure to meet the requirements of the healthiest of eaters. If youíre looking for something on the lighter side, these black bean sliders from Just Hungry could be a workable solution. Sliders are also fun to serve guests because they are a menu item carried by a number of different restaurants, making them a hit with the under twenty-one crowd at any teenage sleepover. To skip bread altogether, you can simply serve veggie patties on the side. These black bean cakes look up to the task, although you could always used prepared black bean burgers from the store in a pinch.
Photo Credits: Black Bean Soup by The Pink Peppercorn, Vegetarian Black Bean Burger pic by Norwich Nuts, Black Bean Taco image by Bobjudge, Black Bean Salsa photo by Jeffrey W, †Avacado and Black Bean Pizza by The Pizza Review, Black Bean Bruschetta by Jeffrey W, Toasted Black Bean Sandwich picture by Norwich Nuts, Baked Potato Topped with Corn and Black Beans by Joe Foodie.