By Ellie Philpotts
Beans, beans, good for the heart. And a lot of other things, apparently. Like, they’re good for conserving precious energy by being such a minimalistic thing to whip up in the kitchen. They’re good for making you feel like a proper student, when you arrive in halls laden with them. And finally they’re good for… well… writing this article, I guess.
You might think the only thing you can make with beans is the student staple of beans on toast, and no, we’re not going to patronise even the worst of cooks by regurgitating the recipe. But you’d be wrong – here’s 10 things you didn’t know you could make with the humble bean.
- Beans-Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers have seen a bit of a resurgence of late – becoming quite a fashionable dinner, yet not compromising on speed, efficiency or great taste. But have you ever considered pairing them with beans? The whole thing takes less than 45 mins – simply cut however many bell peppers you fancy in half, fill them with a tin of beans, and toppings like rice, grated cheese, salt and the other variety of pepper, and bake in a pre-heated 400-degree Fahrenheit oven.
Here’s how to simplify the Mexican favourite Huevos Rancheros – because we can’t all be as good as the chefs at El Paso or Chimichanga in town. Fry chorizo with paprika and peppers, chuck in a batch of beans, and leave an egg to poach amid all the flavours for about five mins. While it’s fair to say Cardiff’s climate is worlds apart from Cabo San Lucas’, at least we can replicate their cuisine (well kind of).
3. Mince, Beans and Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet potato has rightly joined forces with legions of fans in recent years – but it’s normally found in the form of fries, at cool eateries like Bill’s or Burger & Lobster. Now though, it’s time to introduce the glorified spud into the murkier world of the student kitchen. Chuck mince, onion, carrots, stock cubes, grated cheese and finally, the stars of the show – two large sweet potatoes and a tin of beans – and ta da, an impressive pie is the end result.
4. Baked Bean Soup
With winter looming, light bites and ice-cream are making way for heartier grub. But instead of reaching for the Heinz, why not whip up your own? Once the bacon is done, cook beef for up to 8 minutes, then drain before mixing beans, broth, vegetable juice and three tablespoons of ketchup. Cook all of this over medium heat for about ten minutes, stirring at intervals, then feel free to serve up once it’s heated all the way through. (Image credit: twitter.com/Stag_Coffee). The link is that the pic very aptly gives beans centre stage…
Hogwurst en route to Taly isn’t the only Cardiff kitchen that’s a pro at the chilli dog. They might now have competition… Mix the beans with chilli powder until they simmer, and fry onion and garlic. Then once the hot dogs are done and dusted, top with chilli and cheese and grill them altogether until the melted finale symbolises your go-ahead to dig in.
6. Greek Beans
Transport a little dose of Santorini here to rainy Cathays (or of The Hellenic Eatery on nearby Crwys Road). Local delicacy Gigantes Plaki translates as ‘giant baked beans’ and you can attempt your own version by sautéing garlic in olive oil, adding herbs like dill, oregano and parsley, then finishing off with tomatoes, onions, garlic and melted feta to drizzle over the beans.
7. Boston BBQ Beans
We’re willing to test the foodie theory that what Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says goes, and these are among his favourites…
It works whether you’re using haricot beans or the traditional tins; ready to dedicate a lot of time, or are all about that student speediness. Diced pancetta, a dollop of mustard, Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, salt and vinegar, peppers and onions should all be stirred in with the beans. This also works well if you’re freezing leftovers, to brighten up a lecture-ridden week with minimal effort. (Image credit: instagram.com/eleanor_p/, snapped at The Early Bird! Okay, just realised crediting myself makes me look like one silly human bean) 8. Baked Beans and Eggs
Get all your evening protein in one fell swoop, or set yourself up for the day while managing to steer clear of the Cheerios, Nutella on toast or even your nearest greasy spoon. Mix the beans and chopped onion, then once the eggs are half-cooked, add bacon and cheese if you’re after an extra kick. Serve on their own or atop something fancier like a bagel or muffin.
9. Sausage and Bean Hot-Pot
You probably know the importance of proper hearty food to avoid succumbing to Freshers Flu, and the trusty Sausage and Bean Hot-Pot will give you a fighting chance. Apart from if you’re veggie, but that’s where Quorn or Linda M come in. Slice veg like onion and leek, fry them in the same pan as the sausages, then add peppers and tinned tomatoes for another five mins. Now’s time for the beans and drained kidney beans for ten more, before enjoying it as a meal in its own right, or alongside pasta or mash. (Image credit: twitter.com/theearlybird_uk, aka the Bean Queens. Or kings, but ‘bean queen’ rhymes and all that.) 10. Baked Bean Casserole
Last but not least, the much-loved casserole is bound to last you a good few days – or share with the flatmates. Beef, onions, bell pepper, BBQ sauce or ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce (basically all the sauce), bacon and the beany focal point all join forces to create something warming and impressive. You can combine almost everything in one large saucepan before moving it to a casserole dish, sprinkling bacon over the top and baking for 45 mins.