We’ve all been there. You’re elbow-deep in preparing dinner when you realize the ingredient you thought was in the pantry isn’t. You’re now scrambling for a replacement with no time to run to the store.
Don’t panic. Your kitchen is stocked with suitable substitutes — ones you might not have considered before. We often feel the need to precisely follow a recipe, when sometimes a substitution elevates the dish from good to great.
Perhaps the pasta you normally add to your chicken soup is gone. Now what? You can substitute beans for starches or meats in many recipes. Depending on the flavor combination you’re going for, there are a variety of beans that could take the place of your missing ingredient quite well.
- Going for Italian or Mediterranean? Try cannellini beans or garbanzo beans.
- Maybe it’s a Latin flair you’re after? Add in some black beans or milder red kidney beans.
- Looking for a smooth flavor to complement your dish? Try navy beans or butter beans.
You don’t have to run out of something to start thinking outside the box. Add a little flair to your favorite recipes by making small changes. Next time you’re putting together a pasta salad, replace half of the pasta with colorful beans. Use black beans to add an earthly flavor and red beans for a zestier flavor. White beans are a great complement to fresh tomato and chopped cucumber salad.
Consider using beans as a side dish as well. Combine potatoes with cannellini beans and serve alongside your main protein. Mix together black and pinto beans for the perfect side dish to serve with a Latin-inspired meal.
Swapping Commonly Used Beans
Chances are, you have a can or two of beans in your pantry. This week it might be red kidney beans and next week cannellini. It’s not a bad idea to stock one or two of your favorite varieties just in case. But if you don’t, here’s a quick guide to substituting one bean for another when the need arises.
White Beans: Cannellini beans have a mild, nutty flavor. They can be easily interchanged with great northern beans and navy beans. All are great in soups, salads and white chili. These types of beans are used often in Mediterranean cooking.
Red Beans: Kidney beans, red beans and pinto beans can all be substituted for one another. They are most often used in making chili but are also tasty in salads and soups. You’ll find they are used often in Southwest and Mexican-inspired cuisine, as well as in Cajun dishes.
Black Beans: There really isn’t a great substitute for the earthy flavor of black beans; however, pinto beans are a common substitute. Keeping one or two cans of black beans in your pantry is a must!
Next time you’re in the thick of making dinner or getting a pasta salad ready for a party, consider grabbing a can of beans to change things up a bit. You’ll be happy you did.