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Beans aren’t just for hearty winter fare

The humble bean is perfect for fast and easy summer-time meal options

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People often think of sturdy beans — pintos, black, kidneys — as a hearty winter food. But the humble, inexpensive bean should be a primary food during the long, hot summer months, too. Not only are beans easy to prepare without a lot of cooking or time spent in a steamy kitchen, but they lend themselves well to the bounty of fresh vegetables and herbs available during the sunny season.

Pre-Cooked. Canned beans are done! You can even eat them cold. Dried beans are cheaper, but weigh the time (and heat) you’ll need to cook them. Beans from the can make a great addition to cold salads, or assorted soups and chilis.

Easy Cooking. No food is happier in one pot than beans. 

Clear Out the Fridge. Beans are an excellent blank canvas. You can follow recipes galore – or just use up some leftovers. (Recent beans I made: pintos, garlic scapes, a sad tomato, onion, Thai hot pepper, poblano pepper, chicken leg and celery.) 

Main Dish, Side or Filler. Add rice for the classic protein combo. Adapt flavor — spicy, sweet — for ideal side. Roll up in at tortilla for handheld meal. Also, breakfast, lunch or dinner; huevos rancheros with a classic side of pintos is a powerful morning fuel-up.

Now or Later. Make a giant tub of seasoned beans and bag them in smaller portions to store in the freezer. When needed, thaw freezer bag under hot water to loosen, then dump bean chunk in saucepan (or microwave) to re-heat.


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