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

The recipes in this post were developed by Kate Sherwood, The Healthy Cook, and taste-tested in the Nutrition Action Test Kitchen. Have a comment, question, or idea? Email Kate at

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

Basic Stewed White Beans

Easy, peasy. Sauté some vegetables and herbs, add canned or cooked 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
Serves 4.

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 15 oz. cans no-salt-added cannellini beans (about 3 cups)
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.

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

Serves 4.

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

Serves 4.

4 cups baby spinach (or 1 cup frozen spinach, warmed)
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

Serves 4.

1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 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.

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10 Replies to “Three simple recipes to make beans the star of your next meal”

  1. Love recipes on soup.
    My home grown favorite is throw in about 10 vegetables ( including corn) and nothing else. It really is easy to make

    When I see sodium content so high, i wonder where the sodium originates in the posted recipes.

    I like that you make available a printable version for me. Im 75 now and enjoy simple recipes to prepare and store

    Thanks for website
    Herbert Hoover and Ben Franklin here in Phila says Hop the next plane to our city , as our Annuals Flower Show starts this weekend. Its simply the best in the world

  2. Great ideas. Include a rustic 5 to 7 grain whole wheat bread as an addition to boost the fiber and protein content

  3. Everything looks delicious, especially for someone who is trying to eat a more plant-based diet.

  4. As an RD/RDN, and adjunct faculty at a Community College, I love to share recipes with my students who seem eager to make at least a few changes in their diets! Your recipes are compatible with the good nutrition I teach, and which does not always come thru from my professional organization, Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition!

    1. I found a way to add 30 fruits and vegetables daily into my diet easily. That along with simple changes to my diet has done wonders for me and my family

  5. I’d eat ’em.

    I saw a TV interview with a couple of the head researchers of the calorie-depravation studies.

    They dismissed beans as being “insufficiently nutrient-dense to include in their diets.”

    They’re pretty radical.

    I find it sufficient to avoid wheat & sugar.

    Thanks for the alternate herb & spice recommendations.Invariably, I’ll also be adding butter and/or chipotle sauce.

  6. Thank you Jen, the recipes sound great, I love beans. Is it true if you add apple cider vinegar to the beans it reduces the gassiness? How much vinegar should one use for the 2 cups of beans in each recipe? Will it greatly change the taste of the recipe? Thank you again…

  7. My friend made the basic stewed bean recipe and shared it with me. Delicious and healthy. I am looking forward to making this and trying the different variations.

Comments are closed.