I know that some of you are here because of the title of the post, so feel free to skip all this jibber jabber at the top, and go right down to the list below. But for those of you who want a little background into why we eat so many legumes, read on.
A few years ago Eric heard a snippet of a Diane Rehm show with guests talking about the areas of the world where people live the longest. In the few minutes he heard, the guests discussed that in all of the "blue zones," as they're called, the people eat a lot of legumes. (I went back and listened to the whole show later, and it really is interesting. I am not 100% sure, but I think this is the same show.) This diagram from Wikipedia is also a good summary of what the different blue zones have in common.
Not too much later we were shopping at WinCo and came upon a section of bulk foods. We bought some 25-pound bags of beans and rice. Then some friends moved and gave us some of their food storage, and we had even more beans and rice. As we gradually used up these products, we continued to buy more from WinCo.
Eric served an LDS mission in Brazil, where he ate rice and beans every day. He has said ever since then that it didn't get old, and he wouldn't mind continuing to eat rice and beans every day. Since he became a teacher, we've tried to make a lot of rice and beans at one time, package them into containers and freeze them so he has easy meals he can grab each day for work. Because I dread the idea of him eating the exact same meal every day, I've tried to have a few varieties of rice and beans or lentils and beans at the ready.
So when I say, "These are some of our favorite vegetarian or low-meat meals," I'm not saying these are things we've tried once or twice. These are actually meals that are tried-and-true for us. We eat them regularly.
- Citrus Black Beans from Annie's Eats - Serve this with rice, or eat it as a taco filling. I especially love it with avocados and tomatoes.
- Janssen's similar version, adapted for a slow cooker. I don't love this one quite as much (sorry, friend), but the method is sometimes more appealing.
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos from The Novice Chef - Okay, this is one that is more of "pretty good" than amazing. These freeze well.
- Crockpot Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup from Everyday Reading - Okay, confession: I haven't made this one in a few years. I was attacked by a stomach bug the last time I made it (pure coincidence), and it has turned me off to this soup. But one day I might be willing to give it a try again. You should not let my stomach bug turn you off!
Red Beans (or Kidney Beans)
- Red Beans and Rice from Our Best Bites- So simple and tasty.
- Kidney Bean Curry - It calls for Indian curry paste, but I've made it with Thai since it's harder to find Indian curry paste in my neck of the woods.
- Crockpot "Refried" Beans from Pennies and Pancakes - We use this as an alternative to canned refried beans. It's cheaper and definitely healthier.
- Southwest Sweet and Spicy Salad from Mel's Kitchen Cafe - This is my go-to when I'm asked to bring dinner to somebody. I use way more green onions than the recipe calls for. I also add chopped bell pepper and cilantro. It's great served cold, too.
White Beans (navy, great northern, cannellini, etc.)
- Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Soup from Mel's Kitchen Cafe - You can easily decrease the meat and increase the beans for this one.
- Creamy White Chili from Mel's Kitchen Cafe - I will never get over how much I love this chili/soup. We have it every Halloween (and at other times too!).
- Jalapeno Popper Chili from Everyday Reading - You can rarely go wrong if cream cheese is involved.
Lentils - (I've used green lentils for all these recipes. Occasionally I splurge and buy red lentils, though.)
- Red Lentil Curry - You need Indian curry paste for this, but I've subbed Thai curry paste many times, and that's good too, although rather inauthentic.
- Coconut Curried Lentils from Foodess -
- Dhal Nirvana from Budget Bytes - Just another version of Indian curried lentils. Those Indians know how to make lentils not taste like dirt.
- Carrot Soup
- Tarka Dhal - Mine is from a book,but this is basically the same.
- Chickpea Salad with Roasted Carrots and Feta from Everyday Reading - I was skeptical of this one, but it's probably my favorite of all these.
- Chickpea and Tomato Basil Salad from Green Lite Bites - This one is exclusively a summer meal for us, when we have cherry or grape tomatoes coming out our ears. Bonus if the basil I've grown hasn't died yet. Otherwise, it's worth it to splurge and buy some fresh basil.
- Poached Eggs and Chickpeas from Everyday Reading - I have a cast-iron skillet, so I can do this in one pan, which makes it all the more appealing to me.
- Chana Masala from Sweet Peas &Pumpkins - This is a great basis for any red curry you want to try, actually.
- Chana Saag (chickpeas and spinach) from Budget Bytes - I love just about any Saag recipe.
So there you have it. Feel free to suggest your own faves. I'm always looking for new ways to eat legumes.