Beans are an easygoing food friend — they get along with nearly every seasoning on the block.
Their mellow flavor plays well with others, whether you’re talking fresh herbs, savory spices, or sweet ’n’ sour sauces.
Still learning the ins-and-outs of different seasonings? Here are four sumptuous combos to help you get started.
Chipotle peppers are ripened jalapeño peppers that have been smoked and dried. Many grocery stores offer cans of chipotle peppers soaked in tangy adobo sauce. This convenient condiment can be a key addition to bean soups, stews, chilis, and other dishes.
Chipotle peppers are very spicy, so a little goes a long way. For every 16-ounce can of beans that you include in a dish, try adding half of a chipotle pepper with one teaspoon of adobo sauce. If that’s not spicy enough, add more chipotle pepper and sauce to suit your preferences.
Chipotle peppers also pair well with other Mexican and Tex-Mex spices. For example, try adding ½ teaspoon of dried oregano, ½ teaspoon of ground cumin, and 1 clove of minced garlic to the blend of beans and chipotle above. You can also add a squeeze of lime juice or a splash of red wine vinegar to brighten the flavors. Season the dish to taste with salt.
If you don’t use the entire can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you can store the leftovers in your refrigerator for 1 to 2 months.
Cumin is a bean’s best friend. It’s commonly used in Latin American, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines — all of which feature beans as staple ingredients.
You can add cumin to any type of bean dish, from bean soups to bean salads to bean dips, and more. Its earthy flavor is complemented by spicy garlic and bright citrus juice.
For every 16-ounce can of beans that you prepare with these seasonings, add ½ teaspoon of ground cumin and 1 clove of minced garlic. For bean soups, stews, and chilis, add these spices early in the cooking process. For bean salads and dips, you can add these spices without cooking them.
Season the dish to taste with salt and citrus juice, such as lemon or lime juice. Add the salt and citrus juice bit by bit, until the flavors really pop.
One of the most popular cumin-seasoned dips is hummus. You can try out your seasoning skills with this simple hummus recipe.
This Creole-inspired combination is more savory than spicy. It adds delicious depth to bean soups, stews, and salads.
For every 16-ounce can of beans that you season with this mix, add ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme, ½ teaspoon of dried oregano, ½ teaspoon of paprika, and 1 clove of minced garlic. You can use sweet paprika, spicy paprika, or smoked paprika to suit your tastes.
For bean soups, stews, and other cooked dishes, add the herbs and spices early in the cooking process. For bean salads and dips, substitute 1 teaspoon of minced fresh thyme and 1 ½ teaspoons of minced fresh oregano for the dried herbs.
Baked beans are a tried and true staple of American picnics, potlucks, and backyard barbecues. They owe their flavor to a heady combination of condiments, including maple syrup or molasses, ketchup or tomato paste, and mustard.
To make your own sweet and sour sauce for beans, combine ¼ cup of maple syrup, ¼ cup of ketchup, and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard. To deepen the flavor, add half an onion that’s been chopped and sautéed in oil until tender. You can also add 4 slices of cooked chopped bacon, 4 ounces of chopped ham, or a few sliced frankfurters.
This will make enough sauce to dress two 16-ounce cans of beans. To meld the flavors, combine the sauce and drained beans in an ovenproof dish, cover the mixture with a lid, and bake it at 325°F for 2 to 3 hours.
If you prefer, you can gently simmer the beans for 30 minutes on your stovetop or cook them for several hours in a slow-cooker.
When you want an even speedier way to satisfy a bacon-bean craving, look for brands that have a maple and bacon flavor. With a sweet and sour flavor profile, the combo of beans and cured meat has just the right touch of maple syrup.
Even the most enthusiastic and talented chef needs a night off sometimes. When that’s the case, go for beans that are already seasoned. Health food stores usually have a jaw-dropping variety of seasoned beans that are ready to eat — from savory to Latin-inspired to chili beans.
You’ll be looking for seconds before you know it.