(BPT) – If you’re planning a family BBQ or hosting a socially distanced outdoor party, you may be searching for new ways to bring pizzazz to your sides. Look no further than beans, the versatile and healthy legumes that are an essential ingredient for a wide range of tasty dishes, from salads to baked casseroles and more.
For boosting your plant-based food intake, beans are the ideal addition to any meal — providing a great protein source along with loads of vitamins and nutrients.
For example, one serving contains 6-9 grams of fiber, plus 6-7 grams of protein — about the same amount as one egg or an ounce of meat or fish. Beans can help lower your risk for heart disease, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Beans contain zero saturated or trans fat, and are both gluten-free and cholesterol-free. And if the nutritional benefits aren’t enough to convince you, remember that canned beans are both inexpensive and ready-to-use.
Here are some recipes for sides using beans — including some unique varieties — so you can have fun exploring new flavors.
1. Mediterranean Garbanzo Bean Salad
Delve into a Mediterranean diet with this unique, refreshing salad for a taste of the Greek islands. Use nutrition-packed garbanzo beans and quinoa along with feta cheese, balsamic vinegar and tomatoes — or add your favorite veggies to give it a personal flair. Serve in salad bowls or inside pita bread for a “walking salad.”
2. Santa Maria Pinquitos and Peppers
Use S&W Pinquito Beans from the S&W Heirloom Series, along with poblano peppers and chili powder, for a zesty Southwestern flair. S&W Heirloom Series beans feature rare and colorful varieties of limited batch beans, exclusively grown by hand-picked farmers, that you can’t find just anywhere. Pinquito beans are petite, pinkish-brown, lightly-speckled beans with a smooth, delicate taste your family will love.
For a Mexican-style favorite, cook S&W Heirloom Series Jacob’s Cattle beans in amber or dark beer (which is why Borracho Beans are also called “drunken beans”), tomatoes, green chiles and cilantro to add a depth of flavor. Jacob’s Cattle beans, an heirloom of Prince Edward Island, Canada, are shaped like a kidney bean, but are white with maroon splashes. According to legend, these beans were cultivated by the Passamaquoddy tribe during the 17th century, forming a vital foundation for Native American agriculture.
4. Smoky Pineapple Baked Beans
This fan favorite is the perfect complement to smoked and barbecued meats — with just the right combination of heat, smoke and sweet. Consider serving grilled pineapple slices or pineapple kebabs alongside this pinto bean and black bean mix to bring out the fruity, tropical flavor of the dish.
Celebrate this southern classic with the richness of S&W Heirloom Series Yellow Eye beans, also called “tiger-eye” beans. Their nutty flavor and creamy texture are perfect for dishes ranging from “cowboy caviar” to refried beans. Use fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels, tomatoes and zucchini — and don’t forget the jalapenos for a little kick.
6. 3 Bean Salad with Vinaigrette
For a light, tasty salad that’s welcome at any family picnic or BBQ, this recipe combines garbanzos, pinto beans and kidney beans flavored with red onions, Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar. Be sure to bring the recipe with you, as guests will very likely be asking for it!
The delicious combo of bacon and apples plus the sweetness of maple syrup will have your guests asking for seconds. This recipe uses S&W Heirloom Series European Soldier beans, also called “red-eye” beans. They’re a long white bean with red spots around the eye, which is thought to resemble a toy soldier. European Soldier beans are mild in flavor, making them an ideal substitute in almost any white bean recipe.
Find plenty of exciting bean varieties and recipes at SWBeans.com, and order them on Amazon to be delivered in time for your next family get-together!