So You Stocked Up on Beans. Now What? Make a Sandwich

Editor’s Note: As more people are working from home, Bloomberg Pursuits has introduced a weekly “ Lunch Break” column that will highlight a notable recipe from new cookbooks and the hack that makes them genius.

In an incredible turn of events, beans have gone from being the most boring of shelf staples to the star of the pantry. Coronavirus-related shelter-in-place and lockdowns have led people to stockpile cans of the stuff: In early March, Goya Foods reported that sales of its canned beans had risen as much as 400%. The companytold the New York Times that in one week it had shipped 24 million cases of black beans, pinto beans, and similar product to stores.

Beans make perfect sense when people who’re used to having unlimited options abruptly find themselves with very few. Legumes have a yearslong shelf life and can be adapted to many diets that people are trying to keep even while in quarantine, whether it’s vegan or high-protein. They’re a blank canvas for cooks, who can get creative with their limited resources.

In his new book, Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein (Ten Speed Press; $30), Washington Post writer and James Beard winner Joe Yonan provides recipes for hard-core bean fans, such as lentil sloppy Joes and coconut cream bean pie, with navy beans tucked into the filling.

But he also has sublime ideas for people in need of simpler, all-purpose recipes, like a luscious and light hummus that seems from another planet compared to the sludgy, grainy versions found at the store.

“Hummus has got to be one of the most pantry-friendly dishes in the world. It comes together in minutes from cans, jars, plus a little lemon and garlic,” he says.

It’s a great dip, of course, but it’s also a secret weapon as a spread for sandwiches, adding creaminess and a hit of protein. Yonan’s hack is to add aquafaba, the liquid that always gets tossed out from the canned chickpeas, along with a little ice, which adds a silky quality.

Another of Yonan’s simple favorite dishes from the book is a 10-minute bean salad. It’s crunchy and fresh-tasting, and also adaptable: It can be made with any canned beans you have on hand, as well as just about any green. To level up this salad, he recommends using boldly flavored tortilla chips, such as chili or lime, instead of regular salted ones. It’s a salad that will make you the envy of every Zoom party you attend.

Perfectly Simple and Light Hummus

2 15-oz. cans of chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved with a few ice cubes added
½ cup tahini
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. salt, plus more to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil
Chili powder or za’atar, for serving (optional)
Chips and vegetables, for serving

In a blender or food processor, combine the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and ¼ cup of the reserved chickpea liquid (aquafaba). Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally. With the machine on, add an additional ½ cup of the chickpea liquid. The hummus should be light and the texture of very thick pancake batter; add more chickpea liquid if necessary and season with salt to taste. Serve the hummus in a bowl, drizzled with oil and seasoned with chili powder, with chips and vegetables—or use it as a sandwich spread. Makes about 3½ cups

10-Minute Pinto Bean Tortilla Salad

¼ cup cilantro or parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. sugar
10 cups lettuce greens, such as spinach or torn romaine leaves
2 15-oz. can pinto beans, drained
2 3-oz. bags of sturdy, chili- or lime-flavored tortilla chips, plus more to taste
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

In a blender, combine the cilantro, oils, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and a large pinch of salt. Puree until smooth; add more salt to taste.
In a large serving bowl, toss the beans, tortilla chips, feta, and tomatoes with two-thirds of the dressing. Serve with the remaining dressing. Serves 6


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