Three simple recipes to make beans the star of your next meal

By Jen Urban


All recipes in this post developed by Kate Sherwood, The Healthy Cook.

Click here for a printer-friendly version of these recipes.

While great by themselves, these stewed beans are also the perfect base for dozens of dishes. Here are three to get you started.

Basic Stewed White Beans


Easy, peasy. Sauté some vegetables and herbs, add canned beans, season, and you’re in business. This recipe makes four 1-cup servings. With any of the variations, you get four 1½-cup servings.

Time: 20 minutes

2 large carrots, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried oregano or thyme
2 cans no-salt-added cannellini beans
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the carrot and onion in the oil until lightly browned, 4-5 minutes.

2. Stir in the tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, until the paste starts to darken, 2-3 minutes.

3. Stir in the oregano. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Stir in the beans and their liquid. Cook until heated through, 1-2 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

Per serving (1 cup):

  • Calories: 290
  • Total fat: 12 g
  • Sat fat: 1.5 g
  • Carbs: 37 g
  • Fiber: 10 g
  • Total sugar:  6 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 11 g
  • Sodium: 340 mg

Variation 1: Garlic Shrimp


½ lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. lemon juice
¼ tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbs. parsley, chopped

1. Sauté the shrimp and garlic in the oil until cooked through, 2-3 minutes.

2. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and parsley. Spoon over the basic stewed beans.

Per serving (1½ cups):

  • Calories: 400
  • Total fat: 19 g
  • Sat fat: 2.5 g
  • Carbs: 38 g
  • Fiber: 10 g
  • Total sugar:  6 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Sodium: 530 mg

Variation 2: Spinach & Sundried Tomatoes


4 cups baby spinach
¼ cup chopped sundried tomatoes (oil-packed)
2 scallions, sliced

1. Stir the spinach and sundried tomatoes into the basic stewed beans after removing the beans from the heat.

2. Garnish with the scallions.

Per serving (1½ cups):

  • Calories: 320
  • Total fat: 13 g
  • Sat fat: 1.5 g
  • Carbs: 41 g
  • Fiber: 12 g
  • Total sugar:  6 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 13 g
  • Sodium: 400 mg

Variation 3: Cherry Tomato & Basil


1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
 tsp. kosher salt
¼ cup shredded parmesan

1. Mix together the tomatoes, basil, oil, and salt.

2. Spoon over the basic stewed beans and top with the parmesan.

Per serving (1½ cups):

  • Calories: 360
  • Total fat: 17 g
  • Sat fat: 3 g
  • Carbs: 40 g
  • Fiber: 11 g
  • Total sugar:  8 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 14 g
  • Sodium: 490 mg

Photos: Kate Sherwood/CSPI.

Enjoy these recipes? 
Salad Days!—from Nutrition Action’s Healthy Cook, Kate Sherwood—will help you expand your repertoire with imaginative combinations of greens, vegetables, herbs, whole grains, and proteins. You’ll find healthy variations on classics like Chicken Caesar and Cobb, as well as more adventurous combos like Black Beans & Red Rice with Smoked Paprika Dressing and Sesame Shrimp with Caramelized Shallot Citrus Dressing.

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