How to Jazz Up a Can of Black Beans

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On paper, black beans look like a mealtime must-have. They're loaded with fiber, antioxidants, folate and protein, and your grocery store stocks high-quality canned beans year-round. But on their own, black beans are mild in flavor, so they benefit from being paired with big, bold tastes and textures. And while these beans are tasty in burritos, they don't just belong in Latin dishes.

Season Beans as a Side

  • Pair mellow beans with tart and bold seasonings for a side dish packed with flavor. Start by sauteing minced garlic in oil. Add a can of beans, cumin, salt, chopped red onion and lime juice to taste and heat the mixture until it's warm. If you're a bit more adventurous, try adding minced ginger to the garlic. After adding the beans, stir in mango or peach salsa for a side that's bright and fresh and can be served alongside fish tacos or grilled veggies.

Turn Beans Into Salad

  • Black beans add enough protein to a salad to turn it into a complete meal. Mix the beans with chopped tomato and avocado, fresh corn, cilantro and lime juice for a quick afternoon snack. Add shredded, cooked chicken to make this dish a meal. Toss beans over your favorite green or taco salad, or try a five-ingredient salad. Combine beans, cooked rice, chopped onion and bell pepper with vinaigrette, or make your own citrus dressing.

Add Beans to Leftovers

  • Use black beans to beef up whatever's taking up space in your fridge. Stir them into chili or soup to add thick richness to each bowl. Season them with ginger and spoon them over sweet potato wedges, add them to leftover Chinese stir-fry or mash them with lime juice and spread them over a bun when making a burger. Black beans from a can add texture that frozen foods are often lacking, so try adding them to microwaved burritos and rice bowls too.

More Ideas

  • Add protein and meaty flavor to a quick breakfast feast using black beans. Sprinkle them over scrambled eggs topped with tomatoes and cheddar cheese, or mix them with salsa to make a condiment to serve alongside potato and onion hash. A dip of blended beans, roasted pepper and sour cream is a luscious way to feast on corn chips, and the flavor of the beans stands out. For a more upscale party offering, combine beans with spices and chopped avocado, tomato and sweet onion and use the mixture to top toasted slices of bread.

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