Patrick Decker

Supermarket Score! White Beans

“Supermarket Score!” is all about taking a look at the great deals and delicious meals that are hidden in commonly found supermarket items.

So I know what you’re thinking and I agree: nothing says “bring it on” like a post that has white beans in the title. But seriously, I know I don’t have to sell you on the merits of the great & mighty bean!

This member of the legume family manages to find its way onto my table at least once (and often more) a week. When I’ve got the time I cook them from scratch, but the prepared canned varieties are a great way to add fiber and protein to a meal that either contains no meat or could use a bit of a nutritional boost.

When shopping for canned beans, I prefer to pick up a variety with “No Salt Added”. I like to control the amount of salt in my food as I’m preparing it. When working with dried beans, be sure to give them a quick picking through as bags can sometimes contain small pebbles that evade sifting during harvest (not fun to bite down on).

To prepare dried beans from scratch they need to be soaked before cooking. The soaking tenderizes them while also helping to extract many of the compounds that could later leave you feeling gassy and bloated after eating them. Cover the beans by about 2-inches with cold water and let them sit at room temperature overnight. If you’re in a pinch, cover the beans with boiling water and let them sit for one hour (it’s not as effective as the overnight soak but it gets the job done). Drain off the soaking water, cover the beans with fresh water, and simmer them until they’re tender, about an hour.

But why stop at just plain ‘ol simmered beans? Check out these three other amazing uses for white beans:

PIE WEIGHTS

For all my baking fans out there, pie weights are used to “weigh down” a crust when blind baking it before later topping it off with a filling. While you can certainly buy fancy metal or ceramic pie weights if you want, I take a bit of inspiration from the other household name for them: baking beans. Save yourself a little scratch and use dried beans next time – they’re even reusable for several rounds of baking.

WHITE BEAN HUMMUS

There’s no denying the delicious and versatile appeal of hummus. It’s great as a dip, filling, sandwich spread, and so much more. While traditional recipes call for chick peas when making hummus, switch up your routine a bit and swap in white beans. They’re a bit creamier and play just was well with traditional flavorings like roasted garlic, lemon, and herbs. Not sure where to begin? Try out this Greek Hummus recipe from Rachael.

PROTEIN-PACKED POTATOES

We all want to keep an eye on eating a bit better, especially just after the New Year. While potatoes are certainly a good carbohydrate to have in your diet, give them a protein boost with white beans. Add a handful of drained canned beans to a boiling pot of potatoes during their last few minutes of cooking and then mash them up with the spuds. Your family won’t even know they’re there and you’ll be swapping simple carbs for filling protein.

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has. Probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary team on Rachael’s daytime talk show, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day, and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest twEATs on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.


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