All-Star Bean Main Dishes

Beans and legumes are nutritional superstars. Instead of relegating beans to the side dish role, let these vegetarian recipes be the main player on the plate.

  • White Bean Salad with Asparagus and Artichokes
    Randy Mayor

    White Bean Salad with Asparagus and Artichokes

    Steam baby artichokes and fresh asparagus to combine with the white beans in this colorful springtime salad. This super-quick main dish salad takes less than 20 minutes to prepare. Slice the radishes, green onions and basil while the vegetables are steaming.
  • Fava Beans with Pesto and Cavatappi
    Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Jan Gautro

    Fava Beans with Pesto and Cavatappi

    This vegetarian main dish shows off summer-fresh fava beans mixed with pasta and pesto. If you can't find them, substitute fresh lima beans or even thawed frozen edamame.
  • Butternut Squash and Smoky Black Bean Salad
    Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr

    Butternut Squash and Smoky Black Bean Salad

    You'll find chipotle chiles canned in adobo sauce on the Latin food aisle. Use just the sauce here; reserve chiles for another use.
  • Black Bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas
    Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross

    Black Bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas

    Try these spicy enchiladas featuring black beans combined with a sautéed corn-and-zucchini filling that's hearty and satisfying. Rinsing and draining canned beans reduces the sodium content by about 40 percent.
  • Portobello and Black Bean Quesadillas
    Photo: Oxmoor House

    Portobello and Black Bean Quesadillas

    Sautéed portobellos are delicious in ragouts; as a topping for polenta or pizza; or as a filling for fajitas, tacos, or quesadillas. The portobello mushroom stands up to the robust flavors in these quesadillas, all the while preserving its own sturdy texture.
  • White Beans with Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto
    Randy Mayor; Melanie J. Clarke

    White Beans with Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto

    Rustic Mediterranean fare typically features white beans that are cooked with onions, garlic, and fresh herbs. The intensity of roasted peppers and pesto partner nicely with the mild-flavored beans.
  • Falafel with Avocado Spread
    Lee Harrelson

    Falafel with Avocado Spread

    Falafel is a Middle Eastern specialty made by deep-frying patties of ground chickpeas. This Latin twist on this dish uses pinto beans combined with crushed tortilla chips, cilantro, and cumin. The patties are pan-fried in a small amount of oil, making them lower in fat than traditional falafel.
  • Black Bean Tacos
    Becky Luigart-Stayner; Jan Gautro

    Black Bean Tacos

    The protein in these veggie-packed tacos comes from black beans and seitan (wheat gluten), which has a chewy, meatlike texture. Serve the tacos with the tangy Avocado Salsa–a chunky version of guacamole.
  • Baked Gigantes in Tomato Sauce
    Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Katie Stoddard

    Baked Gigantes in Tomato Sauce

    Baked beans take on a whole new identity in this hearty dish featuring gigantes–a Greek version of lima beans–that are baked in a chunky herbed tomato sauce. If you can't find gigantes, you can substitute large lima beans.
  • Hominy-Pinto Burgers with Roasted Poblano Chiles
    Randy Mayor

    Hominy-Pinto Burgers with Roasted Poblano Chiles

    Bean burgers are even better when the beans are processed with hominy and masa harina–the "dough" used to make corn tortillas. The smokiness of roasted poblanos perfectly complements the southwestern spiciness of the burgers and toppings.
  • Garbanzo-Tomato Curry
    James Carrier

    Garbanzo-Tomato Curry

    Garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas, are used extensively in Mediterranean, Indian, and Middle Eastern cooking. Balance the heat in this curry with yogurt and serve with rice.
  • Lentil and Rice Pilaf
    Christina Schmidhofer

    Lentil and Rice Pilaf

    Add protein to a simple rice pilaf with lentils. In addition to protein, lentils are also a fair source of calcium and iron. Increase calcium by topping each serving with a dollop of yogurt sauce.
  • Split Pea-Spinach Dal with Cauliflower
    Photo: Karry Hosford

    Split Pea-Spinach Dal with Cauliflower

    A dal is a classic Indian legume stew that's served in some form with almost every meal. This one features yellow split peas, spinach and cauliflower and gets its distinctive flavor from cumin, turmeric, and mustard seeds.
  • Cuban Black Bean Patties with Pineapple Rice
    Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross

    Cuban Black Bean Patties

    To make these hearty bean patties, partially mash the beans before combining with shredded cheese. The pineapple rice is a refreshing accompaniment for the spicy patties.
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