Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice packs in enough flavor to skip the meat. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
Red beans and rice can be a simple comfort food, relying on browned onions and meat for its main flavor, but I take it much further in the vegetarian version I share this week in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon. My favorite version of this quintessential Southern dish has a long ingredient list packed with flavor.

If you tend to believe that a recipe with more than a handful of ingredients is too complicated to make, look at this one again: You’re essentially dumping everything into a pot, cooking it, and serving it over steamed rice. And if you’re missing something on the list, you can pretty much cook the beans with as many of the ingredients as you do have and end up with a delicious meal.

There is one shortcut I use to shorten the ingredient list: If I’m cooking dried beans, I preseason them with many of the flavorings and then just add the final ingredients when I make the dish as a quick midweek meal.
Learn to make Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

Beans and Cornbread

Homemade vegetarian baked beans can have the perfect balance of sweet and tang. Get bean recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Baked beans can be a vegetarian’s guilty pleasure. Cans on the store shelf often make up for the lack of bacon by upping the sweetness factor, taking the beans out of the “healthy food” realm and putting them in the same category as store-bought granola and sweet potato fries. It’s unfortunate, because when cooked properly, vegetarian baked beans can have the perfect balance of sweet and tang.

I’ve always found canned vegetarian baked beans to be cloyingly sweet. Then I got hooked on beans in tomato sauce when I lived in London. These navy beans stewed in tomato sauce and popped into a can aren’t exactly gourmet, but the first flavor on my tongue wasn’t corn syrup. The Brits are great fans of them as beans on toast. As filling as this meal was on a backpacker budget, a stand in Covent Garden went one better: for a few quid, I could get a giant, piping hot jacket potato smothered in these beans. Since then, I’ve upscaled the beans, but I still love to serve them in baked potatoes.
Learn to make Vegetarian Baked Beans and Baked Polenta

Digging into Dried Beans

People seem to have a love it or leave it relationship with beans. If you love them, you’ve probably had them cooked right. Read more about cooking beans.People seem to have a love it or leave it relationship with beans. If you love them, you likely have an underlying reason: they’re cheap yet filling, you’ve cut other proteins from your diet, or you grew up in a household, community, or culture that saw beans as a staple. Madhur Jaffrey starts her 750-page World Vegetarian cookbook with a section on dried beans. Louis Armstrong loved his beans so much he closed letters with “Red Beans & Ricely Yours.”

But the primary reason people love beans is that they’ve had them cooked right. Well-cooked legumes don’t just pack a nutritional punch; they have delicious flavors and textures and can be adapted to any meal, from breakfast to dessert. Unfortunately, people who rarely eat beans often only do so by cracking open a can and being immediately disappointed by the texture and taste—and the aftereffects. “The more legumes you eat the more you can eat them,” Jaffrey writes in her chapter on dried beans. And the more you know about how to cook beans, the more likely you are to eat them.
Read more about cooking beans