Don't Let Beans Get the Better of You this Fall

It's What's for Dinner!


The only thing that should spook you in the autumn is Halloween. Hearty cool-weather foods like beans and other legumes, though, have frightened more than a few cooks.

Canned versions mean that the daunting soaking process can be a thing of the past. Filling, fiber-filled meals can be made in minutes—or even as single servings in kitchen mugs—as Camilla Saulsbury proves in her ingenious 250 Best Meals in a Mug.

From spiced lentils with fresh mint, to a succulent white bean and bacon soup, to a burrito-themed mug with pinto beans and rice, to a warm garlic bean spread, this winner on Food Network’s “$25,000 Ultimate Recipe Showdown” is expert at showing how to pair and prepare beans.
She makes it clear, too, why there’s a lot to love about legumes if you want to nutritiously and economically watch out for your family.

“With their high protein content, wide availability, low cost and convenience,” she gushes, “canned beans and lentils are ideal for a wide variety of hearty mug meals.”

Canned lentils are the foundation of this fall meal accented by yogurt, almonds and mint.

Spiced Lentils with Mint
Yields 1 serving

1 cup Canned lentils, rinsed and drained (or black beans or pinto beans)
¾ cup Tomatoes, canned and diced (preferably with green chiles), with juice
½ tsp Ground cumin
¼ tsp Ground ginger
⅛ tsp Hot pepper sauce
1 Tbsp Plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp Chopped roasted saltedalmonds
2 tsps chopped fresh mint (or parsley, cilantro or chives)

In a 16-ounce mug, combine lentils, tomatoes, cumin, ginger and hot pepper sauce. Microwave on high for 1½ to 2½ minutes, or until hot. Top with yogurt and sprinkle with almonds and mint.


Bean and Bacon Soup
Yields 1 serving

¾ cup drained rinsed canned White beans (such as great Northern, cannellini or navy), divided
¾ cup store-bought Chicken broth
1 tsp Packed dark brown sugar
¼ tsp Dijon, coarse-grain or brown mustard
1½ Tbsp Store-bought bacon bits (preferably made with real bacon)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a 16-ounce mug, use a fork to coarsely mash ½ cup of the beans. Stir in remaining beans, broth, brown sugar, mustard and bacon. Microwave on high for 1½ to 2½ minutes, or until hot. Let stand for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.


Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books.


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