If you ask me, people don't overcook their vegetables often enough. The truth is, vegetables can sometimes be absolutely delicious when cooked until there isn't a trace of crispness left. In fact, some vegetables practically require long cooking—like these long beans braised in tomatoes, which are best only after you've cooked them to death.
'bean' on Serious Eats
What makes the difference between a great bean salad and a boring bowlful of beans? The answer is simple: Go for maximum contrast, both in texture and in flavor. Here, I add layers of crispness and crunch with almonds, radish, radicchio, fresh parsley, scallion, and quick-pickled onion.
I've been on a tamale pie kick ever since updating my mom's classic recipe a couple months ago by adding a brown butter cornbread crust. Essentially an olive-packed chili baked underneath a sweet cornbread crust, it's one of the all-in-one comfort classics that never fails to bring big smiles and full bellies in its wake. This 100% vegetarian version is no different.
There's a version of pasta e fagioli for just about every region, province and household in Italy, from brothy ones packed with vegetables to creamy ones made only with beans and pasta. This one belongs to that latter group, and the secret to its greatness is all in the beans themselves.
Gan bian si ji—Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans with chilies and pickles—are one of the best and most mistranslated vegetable dishes in the world. Today that dish and I are on a road trip back to authenticity, and we're going to be driving that minibus over some uncharted territory.
This easy bean appetizer takes only five minutes to prepare, but it does rely on some high quality ingredients for optimal flavor. Tender, creamy giant lima beans are worth the splurge when you're coating them with your best extra-virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, and a pinch of smoked paprika. Celery, shallots, and garlic round out the flavor profile and add crunchy texture.
Turning a bean purée into a pasta sauce may sound strange, but just think of it as a variation on the classic Italian soup pasta e fagioli, just with a lot more pasta and only enough "soup" to coat the noodles. It's delicious, and it just happens to be vegan (though we won't snitch if you decide to add grated parm to it).
Ful mudammas, stewed fava beans, is a staple dish all over the Levant. Some versions are mild mannered and comforting. This one, loaded with olive oil, lemon, garlic, cumin, and a kick of chili powder, is anything but. Serve it as a bean stew or mash up the beans and use it as a high octane dip.
Hummus is fine, but the real power legume of the Middle East is the fava bean. Ful mudammas is the Egyptian breakfast dish of favas stewed with tahini and seasoned with garlic, cumin, and lemon. This creamy, comforting version is much like what you'll find around the streets of Cairo.
The Louisiana meal of red beans and rice is typically made with pork: smoked, salted, roasted, or pickled. Those all work well in this recipe (a pound of sliced and browned andouille sausage would be our choice), but the beans also shine with smoked turkey.
I love a crisp sautéed green bean or a fresh and crunchy green bean salad as much as anyone, but there's a time and a place for everything, and I'd like to make the case for tender braised green beans. Let's bust out of this al dente prison we're stuck in now, shall we?
This easy black eyed pea stew starts with andouille sausage and pork belly cooked until browned and crisped, then gets flavored with the Holy Trinity of Cajun cuisine: onions, celery, and green bell peppers, along with some leeks and garlic for extra flavor. Tender braised kale transform this into a full-on meal, while a shot of apple cider vinegar brightens up all the flavors.
To be frank, I'm not 100% certain where this dish of tender chicken and white beans bound in a creamy, fresh green-chili sauce topped with shredded cheese comes from. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the recipe actually originated on the back of a wrapper from a can chopped green chiles. But our version is better than that. Much, much better. Tender, creamy, spicy, and bright, this is the stuff even a dyed-in-the-wool chile con carne traditionalist will dip their finger into when they think nobody is watching.
This hearty chickpea salad flavored with bacon, cotija, and roasted chilies is easy to make and only gets better as it rests overnight. This is a dish custom-made for making ahead and packing on a camping trip or for lunch at the office.
A simple salad of chickpeas dressed in a light vinaigrette flavored with cumin, shallots, and olive oil. Crunchy celery and parsley finish it off. This is the kind of salad that gets better as it sits—Make it one night and pack it for lunch at the office or on a picnic the next day.
The first time I had cassoulet in its home turf it was a revelation. This loose, almost soup-like stew of beans and meat was so far removed from all versions of cassoulet I'd had in the United States, or even in other parts of France. It was a large, bubbling vat of beans and meat, covered in a crust so dark that it was almost black. Rich, meaty, and overwhelmingly simple, the main flavor was just that of the cured meat, a good stock, and beans.
In this easy one-skillet meal, cod fish is wrapped in a layer of prosciutto, then pan-roasted until the prosciutto is crispy and the fish within is juicy and tender. Creamy cannellini beans cooked with crumbled chorizo and and shallots makes a flavorful accompaniment.
A bowl of black beans with some rice, bread, or greens is a meal in itself, but it's also a side dish to round out about any meal. The trick, if you could call it that, is to stick to dried beans that can slowly release their starch into the cooking liquid, and use a balance of aromatics to enhance their flavor.
This vegetable soup from Jody Williams' cookbook, Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food, is impeccable—clean, light, and nourishing. Topped with a spoonful of heady pistou, it's the epitome of the harmony that can happen with a thoughtful collision of fresh ingredients.
Coming from a book with 'meat' in the title twice, Tom Mylan's chili in the The Meat Hook Meat Book is unsurprisingly brimming with a ton of meat. Okay, not a ton, but an impressive five pounds—two of beef, two of pork, and one of lamb—or 20 quarter-pounders, to put things in perspective.