Hearty Bean Recipes for Comforting, High Protein Meals

food, hearty bean recipes for comforting, high protein meals

Beyond baked beans

With a few tins of beans in the store cupboard, you’re on your way to an easy meal. Beans are nutritious, high in protein and fibre. They are also excellent value for money and so versatile. Whether you love kidney beans, cannellini, butter or black beans, here’s a collection of inspiring recipes to show that there’s more to beans than a soup or stew, although there’s a good selection of those too. Try tasty veggie burgers, new sides, one-pot meals, fish dinners and meaty mains.

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Kidney bean and sweet potato stew

Spicy and hearty, this vegetarian stew is incredibly moreish – and happily mostly requires pantry ingredients, so you’ve probably got everything you need to make it. Cumin, cinnamon, chili and turmeric add depth of flavor to tomato passata, chunks of sweet potato and kidney beans. The stew is balanced by a dollop of cooling Greek yogurt and a drizzle of fresh, zingy mint-infused oil.

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Smoky chicken and black bean stew

Typically, dried beans benefit from soaking or pre-cooking, but neither is needed for this stew which is bursting with tomatoes, garlic and herbs. The earthy, smoky flavor comes from cooking chorizo, smoked paprika and jalapeño chili which is developed over a slow, low two-hour cook time. Slow-cooking also ensures meltingly tender chicken thighs, which you can shred into the stew once ready.

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Mushroom and black bean burgers

Here’s a very savory, tasty vegan burger with a lovely texture. The secret ingredient is peanut butter, which is whizzed up with tinned black beans, garlic, chipotle, cumin, lime zest and chestnut mushrooms. The mixture is made into patties, then baked in the oven. You can finish them off on the barbecue for extra smokiness, and serve in buns with chopped peanuts, cilantro and lime.

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Hake with butter beans and lemon mayo

Such a simple dish to prepare, hake is cooked in a broth of butter beans and chopped fresh tomato. Sweet smoked paprika is the key to bringing everything together here and lends subtle heat to the creamy beans and meaty fish. You could also use any thick fillets of white fish, such as cod or haddock. The dish is served with a refreshing lemon mayo – just mayo with lemon zest and juice stirred through.

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Boston baked beans

An American classic, this is so easy to prepare but you do need to allow time for the beans to become tender and wonderfully creamy. The recipe uses dried haricot beans, the traditional bean for baked beans – remember they need soaking overnight before cooking. Add in treacle, ketchup, dark sugar, onions, cloves, mustard, vinegar and chunks of rindless pork belly for a meal in a bowl. Although a hunk of crusty bread on the side is highly recommended.

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Black bean and chipotle soup

Here’s a spicy, nourishing soup which is on the table in just 30 minutes. Fry celery and garlic, before adding smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, chipotle paste (essential to the soup’s warm, rounded heat) and vegetable stock. Then simply whiz together with a stick blender. We think the serving suggestions are just as important as the main dish here: mashed avocado, crunchy tortilla chips, cooling sour cream (or yogurt) and slices of sharp, pickled jalapeños.

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Cauliflower cheese and white bean bake

Turn everyone’s favorite cauliflower cheese into a filling, protein-packed main course by adding tinned butter beans and cannellini beans. Sautéed onion is combined with the rinsed beans and stock, with a little mustard and nutmeg, then cauliflower florets are added and cooked until just tender. Then comes the best bit: a generous sprinkling of grated cheese and breadcrumbs before it’s baked.

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Roasted peppers with chili, tomatoes and beans

Let’s hear it for a dish which tastes even better the day after you make it! It’s a take on a classic Italian recipe called peperonata (stewed peppers with tomatoes) and features slow-roasted slices of red and yellow bell peppers with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, bay leaves and rosemary. But our version also includes tender cannellini beans and, for ease, is cooked in the oven rather than a frying pan.

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Borlotti beans with browned onions and sausages

You’ll need a bit of time for the heady broth of browned onions, garlic, beans, fresh sage and bay leaves to simmer, but we promise it’ll be worth it. Plus, while it’s bubbling away, your kitchen will start filling with the warm notes of buttery onions, earthy borlotti and fresh herbs. Not to mention that tempting smell of sausages as they fry, roast or grill (your choice) and begin to splutter and caramelize. Serve with a good dollop of piquant English mustard and greens.

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Smoked bean and mushroom quesadillas

Everyone loves a quesadilla – flour tortillas filled with beans and cheese, and fried until crisp and melting. It’s the ultimate homemade fast food. Here, chopped mushrooms fried with garlic are also added. The beans in question are butter beans, mashed with roasted red pepper, smoked paprika, parsley, sea salt and black pepper. Spread the bean mix on a tortilla, add the mushrooms and grated cheese, then fry and cut into wedges. Eat them while piping hot.

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Eggplant chili traybake

Traybakes are perfect for midweek meals, requiring minimum preparation time and washing up. In this dish, chopped eggplant (which absorbs flavors really well) is mixed with onion, garlic, spices, kidney beans, tinned tomatoes and chickpeas. Arrange halved eggplants on top then bake, covered. For that bubbling, cheesy top, scatter over grated Cheddar, and grill until melted. Serve with crusty bread.

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Smoky bean and monkfish stew

You can use butter, cannellini or haricot beans in this dish, which is brimming with Mediterranean flavors. The base is onions, garlic, smoked paprika, tomato purée and fish stock, to which you add sliced peppers, beans and herbs. Chunks of monkfish are gently mixed through towards the end, so it doesn’t overcook. Hake would be a good alternative too. We’ll be serving it with hot garlic bread to mop up the juices.

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Porchetta-style pork kebabs with white beans

Porchetta is a large joint of pork, stuffed with herbs and slow-cooked. Here those flavors are replicated without the long cooking time in a main course perfect for the barbecue. Chunks of pork tenderloin are briefly marinated in herbs and garlic, then threaded on to rosemary skewers. Once the meat is charred, it’s cooked over a dish of cannellini beans, herbs and olive oil, which catch the drippings for maximum flavor.

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Kale and cannellini soup

Here’s a nutritious, chunky soup, filling enough to be a midweek main course and ready in 30 minutes. Tinned tomatoes are cooked with kale and Savoy cabbage, plus drained and rinsed cooked cannellini beans from a tin. While it’s simmering, prepare toasted ciabatta rubbed with a garlic clove and poached eggs. Remember to taste the soup for seasoning – it will need plenty of freshly-ground black pepper and a good pinch of sea salt.

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Huevos rancheros

Ranchers’ eggs, as the name of this Mexican dish roughly translates to, are perfect for a weekend breakfast or brunch – warm flour tortillas topped with spicy beans, avocado, feta and fried eggs. Simply cook tinned black beans with a little water, cumin and smoked paprika. Add fresh cherry tomatoes and leave to cook for five minutes until softened. Spread the mixture over the tortillas, add avocado slices, fresh lime and fried eggs. Crumble over feta and extra hot sauce.

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Sweet potato burgers

Adding puréed black beans to roasted sweet potato patties adds a lovely smokiness to these tasty burgers. Sautéed red pepper and onion add texture, and cumin and cayenne provide spice. The patties are piled up in a bun with silky avocado cream, an easy jalapeño mayonnaise, slices of beef tomato and lettuce.

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Black and kidney bean chili

Possibly the most strenuous part of this veggie recipe is opening a few cans! It’s ready in 15 minutes, with carrot and garlic mixed with tomato passata, tomato purée, canned kidney beans and black beans, jalapeño chili and chili flakes. You can serve it with whole-grain rice, grated cheese, sour cream and guacamole. Or spoon on top of a baked potato.

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Roasted vegetable feijoada

Feijoada is a Brazilian black bean stew, usually made with pork or beef. Here’s a vegetarian version, equally tasty, but made with roasted sweet potatoes, red onion and peppers. Everything is cooked with a fragrant mix of onion, garlic, paprika, cilantro, thyme and tomato purée. To serve, make a punchy tomato and red pepper salsa, and add rice, fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

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Sticky sausage and bean stew

This one-pot dish is quick, yet full of flavor. It’s as simple as chucking everything – butternut squash, celery, onion, garlic, tomatoes, rosemary and sausages – into the oven. Towards the end of cooking, the mix is joined by cannellini beans, plus honey and balsamic vinegar which give the stew an irresistible sweet and sharply savory flavor. For an even more hands-off dish, prepare the stew in the slow cooker.

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Green shakshuka

Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern breakfast dish, usually made with tomatoes and eggs. Here’s a nourishing vegan version, where the eggs are replaced with plant-based yogurt. Sautéed leeks and garlic are mixed with cannellini beans, peas and spinach. Once cooked, add lots of fresh herbs – parsley, mint and dill – then spoon over yogurt and add slices of avocado. Serve with crusty bread.

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Smoky black beans

It’s the chipotle in this recipe which makes this earthy dish so smoky. You don’t rinse the tinned black beans either – their starchy liquid helps to thicken the dish. To softened onion, add garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon, cumin and carrots. Then add the beans and their liquid with vegetable stock, and cook until thickened. It’s lovely served with rice, sour cream and fresh cilantro, or try them fried in a quesadilla.

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Slow-roasted pork belly with cannellini beans

Pork belly needs slow-cooking, so it’s meltingly tender with gorgeously crisp crackling. Here it’s roasted on a bed of apples, garlic, onion and rosemary. Once the meat is ready, take it out to rest, remove any fat from the roasting tin, then add the beans and cook again. Finally, stir in some shredded cavolo nero leaves. Add a dollop of Djion mustard to serve.

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Smoked sausage, bean and vegetable broth

A perfect dish for a chilly day, this hearty broth is on the table in under an hour. The basic recipe is pretty standard as soups go – stock is added to cooked onions and garlic, and it’s simmered with herbs, seasoning, beans and diced carrots and parsnip. But the addition of smoked sausage (or you could try cooking chorizo for extra spice) brings something special to the table. You could add some kale or spinach at the end of cooking too.

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Cod with chorizo and white beans

Enjoy wonderful Mediterranean flavors with this easy fish recipe. It brings together spicy, smoky chorizo, sweet, softened red peppers, creamy white beans (preferably cannellini) and meaty cod which steams until tender in the tomatoey broth. A big glug of red wine is key to adding some piquancy to the dish too. Serve with lemon wedges and a green salad.

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Herby lentil and cannellini bean stew

Nourishing and high in protein from cannellini beans and lentils (both tinned), this aromatic vegan stew is packed with vegetables and herbs. Fresh thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley add a heady fragrance and flavor. Mustard, yeast extract (like Marmite) and nutritional yeast give the dish an intensely savory hit. You could serve with a hunk of crusty bread or on its own – it’s pretty filling thanks to the pulses, beans and new potatoes.

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Vegan burger with mayo and ‘bacon’

Banish any thought of mushy vegan burgers. This one has great texture and holds together well when cooked thanks to a mix of mushrooms, kidney beans, rice and oats, with bags of flavor coming from herbs, mustard, yeast extract and balsamic vinegar. The vegan ‘bacon’ is genius, made from rice wrappers coated with a soy mixture, then baked until crisp. Make your own vegan mayo too, or use a store-bought one instead.

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Roasted spicy squash, nuts and beans

After you’ve chopped butternut squash, red onion and an eggplant, there’s nothing left to do other than mixing it all in a roasting tin with nuts, butter beans and – the clever shortcut ingredient – a tub of store-bought tomato and chili sauce. Enjoy as a nourishing meat-free meal or as a side to chicken or fish.

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Red red stew

This spicy stew of black-eyed beans cooked in a tomato sauce has its roots in West Africa. It’s traditionally eaten with fried plantain, often for breakfast, but it makes a great dish any time of day. You can use dried or canned black-eyed beans – just remember to use double the weight of canned to dried beans in any recipe. The easy sauce is made with canned tomatoes, garlic, ginger, chili and curry powder.

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Braised lamb with sweet potato

A warming one-pot made with diced lamb neck fillet, gently spiced and simmered in stock with cumin and curry powder, with a little sweetness added from mango chutney. Lamb neck is an economical cut but can be rather tough, so requires slow-cooking to make it tender. You can make this dish ahead and store for two days in the refrigerator.

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Chili con carne

You just can’t beat warming chili con carne, and this one is right up there. The key is in the slow-cooking – it takes around two hours – to ensure all the flavors are melded together. And the magic ingredient to make a good chili into a great one? A decent glug of red wine. Good-quality beef stock will make all the difference too.

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