5 Extra Ways To Cook With Dried Beans

The heirloom bean masters at Rancho Gordo in California have a handful of creative suggestions for getting extra mileage out of your dried beans.

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: Rancho Gordo

Dried beans are having their moment in the spotlight right now with good reason. Stocking up on staples including black beans, pintos and limas is a tasty and nutritious way to bulk out the pantry.

For more adventurous bean devotees, there’s also a smorgasbord of rare and exotic heirloom beans available to experiment with via bean specialists like the good folks over at Rancho Gordo in California, where you’ll find rustic purple-hued Ayocote Morado beans nestling next to black and white-splotched Vaqueros.

Beyond the traditional joys of enjoying a slow-and-low cooked pot of beans, there are a number of easy ways you can add a little extra flair and variety to your home bean menus. Here are five ways to spruce up your beans.

Learn about beans you can grow and cook in your garden!

1. Refried Beans

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Sunday morning breakfast of champs: refried Rio Zape, 2 pouched eggs w/salsa, quelites (rapini, TBH) and a tortilla.

A post shared by Steve Sando (@rancho_gordo) on

Making refried beans is one of the easiest and most flavorful ways to stretch out a pot of leftover beans. The process is a cinch:

  1. Simply heat up some oil or fat in a skillet.
  2. Add the dried beans and a few tablespoons of stock or water to help moisten them up.
  3. Cook over a low heat while slowly smushing and mashing the beans down with the back of a spatula.

Adding spices like cumin, chili or granulated garlic can help pep up the flavor.

Once the beans have reached your desired consistency, serve them as part of a breakfast spread or slather on tortillas for taco night.

2. Bean Stock

You know all that water you used to cook your dried beans in?

Don’t throw it away once they’re done! The bean liquid is like a magical stock that requires zero extra effort to cultivate.

After the bean liquid has cooled, store it away until you’re ready to use it as the basis for soups and stews. You can also thicken it out with a quick roux and turn it into a super savory gravy.

Check out these 3 heirloom pole beans that you just have to grow yourself.

3. Roasted Beans

You might have seen recipes for crispy roasted chickpeas doing the rounds. The same process can be used to transform cooked beans into a crunchy snack or salad topping.

  1. Lay a bunch of cooked beans out on a baking sheet.
  2. Add a splash of oil and some salt and spices (cumin, ancho chili and turmeric are a natural combination).
  3. Roast at around 400 degrees.

Check on the beans every 10 minutes and give them an occasional shake. Try a couple—the roasted beans are ready when the outsides turn crispy.

Just be sure to pull them out before they start to burn. Black beans are especially appetizing when roasted, but they can admittedly be a little tricky to tell when they’re done. Stay vigilant!

4. Bean Dip

Blitz your leftover cooked beans in a food processor with some olive oil (and even a little water to thin things out) and you’ve rustled up the quickest and most nutritious dip around.

White beans work well with a little hard cheese added. Darker beans are great with some sautéed mushrooms blended in.

Either way, bean dip is a natural match for any sourdough loaves you’ve been baking.

5. Hot Bean Shot

Finally, here’s an insider tip from the Rancho Gordo bean wizards: Try serving a shot glass full of warm bean liquid before dinner as an apéritif.

Adding a quick squeeze of lime brings a welcome acidic zest to the concoction. Cheers!

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