If you are looking for our top plant-based bean recipes to try at home, then read on! These bean recipes have all been enjoyed at the retreat by our guests since we opened in 2013 and make delicious meals for you to cook at home.
Beans form a staple part of many vegan and vegetarian diets as they are a great source of protein and also energy (they are a complex carbohydrate). (If you are interested in learning more about protein, you might like to read our earlier article: vegan protein – what it is and how do I get it?). They are also a good source of fibre, helping to support and maintain a healthy digestive system. As most beans are low in fat and cholesterol, they are great for overall health.
Many people who come to the retreat are new to plant-based eating, so often wonder how they get their protein and what to do with those beans! So, in the spirit of learning, this month we thought we would share some of our popular bean recipes.
There are many varieties of beans, including small black beans, Pinto, red, Adzuki, garbanzo (chickpeas), cannellini and lima (white beans) to name a few. You can also buy fresh green beans in the vegetable aisle. In this article we are going to focus on the dried (and pre-cooked) beans.
Beans are actually very versatile – you can create main dishes (that supply all of your nutritional needs), enjoy them as snacks, in dips or even use to create delicious desserts!
Dried or pre-cooked beans?
You will find beans in the supermarket (as well as health food shops). They tend to come either dried or pre-cooked. Dried tend to be cheaper than pre-cooked (when comparing volume) and will take up less room in your kitchen cupboard. They are also said to be nutritionally more dense than pre-cooked beans. However, they can take a long time to cook.
Pre-cooked beans however are ideal for keeping in the store-cupboard, as they can be used to create a healthy meal in few minutes. However, if you buy pre-cooked, then check out the ingredients list, to see what they are stored in. Sometimes salt is added to the jars or tins to preserve the beans – if you are following a low- or reduced-salt diet then you might need to watch this. We suggest you always give the cooked beans a thorough rinse (cold running water) before eating them.
How to prepare your dried beans
When you buy dried beans, you need to prepare them. There are two main options:
This is the method we use at the retreat. Put your dried beans into a pan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak overnight. The next morning, drain the water, cover with fresh water, then cook. (Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook according to packet instructions – usually in the region of one hour).
The alternative so-called “quick method” is to put your beans into a large pan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for two–to-three minutes, then turn off the heat. Cover and leave to sit for one hour.
The main reason we soak our beans first, using the overnight method, is for digestibility. Beans contain complex sugars – some people struggle to digest this (the tummy can not break the sugars down) which is why some people have lots of gas after eating beans. Beans also contain phytic acid, which is known to negatively affect absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. The thought behind soaking beans overnight is that it helps to break down these more complex sugars and phytic acid, so the beans become easier to digest and the amount of phytic acid is reduced. Overnight soaking can also help to speed up the cooking time a little.
Top tip: Prepare a large batch of beans, then freeze them into small portions. That way you have your beans ready whenever you need them!
Top ten plant-based bean recipes
Below are our top ten plant-based bean recipes that we have served at the retreat. Click on the links below for the full recipe.
Vegan taco bean salad recipe with homemade nachos
Our taco bean salad recipe is lovely to enjoy as a light summer or autumn evening meal, or a delicious lunchtime dish.
Sweet and sour bean bowl recipe
If you are a fan of sweet and sour food, then you will love this one! We use three varieties of beans (red, white and black) but you can easily make it with just one (whichever you have ready). We use pineapple to bring natural sweetness and the sour comes from lime and apple cider vinegar.
Vegan bean chilli recipe
This list would not be complete without our fabulous vegan chilli bean recipe. We use lots of different herbs and spices in this recipe, so the ingredients list does look long – but most are items that you can keep in your store-cupboard and use time and time again.
Although “quesa” means cheese, these plant-based bean quesadillas really hit the spot (without needing cheese!). With inspiration from Mexico, this recipe uses black beans (you can easily swap for any other type of bean) and a variety of spices to create a delicious snack or evening meal.
Chickpea tagine recipe
This is a fabulous vegan tagine recipe, which uses chickpeas instead of the traditional lamb. We recommend slow cooking to really let the delicious flavours develop, to create a rich tagine, ideal for any evening meal. Serve with a side of couscous or quinoa for a complete meal.
Winter vegetable soup with vegan pesto and white beans
Beans also make a great addition to a soup – whichever soup you are making you can always throw a handful in. We use white beans in this winter vegetable soup. You might also like to try the vegan pesto, which brings a tasty twist to this wholesome soup.
Hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – our recipe also includes white beans, as they bring an extra creaminess to this ever-popular dip.
Blackbean, avocado and sweetcorn salad
Feast your eyes on this colourful dish and enjoy the contrast between the crunchiness of the sweetcorn with the creamy avocado in our blackbean, avocado and sweetcorn salad. Black beans are popular in Latin America and other parts of the world.
Veggie bean burgers
Bean burgers are a popular dish here at the retreat. You can use whichever beans you have available to make this recipe. We tend to use red beans or pinto beans, as it makes the burger a little darker in colour (so it looks a little more like a meat-based burger), but all taste great! Remember, you can make a large batch of burgers and then freeze some to enjoy another day.
Cannellini beans with roast garlic and rosemary dip
Cannellini beans are used to quickly create this light and creamy dip, delicious as a snack with raw vegetables. Rosemary grows in abundance here in Spain so we tend to use fresh rosemary, however you can substitute dried rosemary if that is what you have available.
Plant-based food at La Crisalida health retreats
All of the food served at La Crisalida health and wellbeing Retreats is plant-based, so contains lots of fresh vegetables, beans and legumes, fruit, wholegrains, as well as nuts and seeds. To learn more about the plant-based food we serve, follow this link: plant-based food at La Crisalida Retreats.
Enjoy our delicious plant-based vegan menus here at the retreat, as part of your all-inclusive healthy holiday. We also share lots of other plant-based recipes on our health and wellbeing blog.
I hope you enjoy exploring all these different bean recipes – let me know which is your favourite!
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).