A Delicious Use-What-You-Like Recipe for Beans on Toast
These nutrition-packed open faced sandwiches are seriously one of my favorite things to makes with a humble pot (or can) of beans and handful of veggies. Use the recipe as a guideline to use what you have and create a meal that is satisfying, nourishing, and layered with flavor.
At least twice a month, I make a big pot of beans, simmering them low and slow in the slow cooker, on the stovetop, or in the oven until they are creamy and delicious. Sometimes I even let them cook for a few hours in the Traeger Smoker, which gives them a gorgeous smoky flavor. The beans get used throughout the week in a variety of dishes and whatever's leftover gets tossed in the freezer.
While I try to make a habit of always cooking dried beans, we also always have at least a few cans of beans in the pantry. They are a staple in my kitchen because of their ability to add flavor and nutrition to a meal with minimal effort.
Toss them into soup or stew, stuff them into poblano peppers, use them to fill burritos, enchiladas, tacos, or tostadas, pile them onto veggie nachos, and of course, cook them with some veggies and greens and spoon them over toast.
Beans are inexpensive, incredibly versatile, and super good for you. They are the ultimate unprocessed convenience food.
Why bother cooking beans from scratch?
The best thing about cooking dried beans is that you have the opportunity to add herbs, spices, garlic and onions to them while they cook, infusing the beans with all that flavor. Also, the texture of cooked dried beans is much, much better than anything that ever comes out of a can.
I also feel that cooking dried beans makes them more digestible. Very important. Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot! 😂 In my experience, the tendency that beans have to make you toot, is much more likely with canned beans than when I take the time to cook up a batch of dried.
Soaking dried beans overnight causes them to release some of their difficult-to-digest phytic acid into the water, and cooking them slowly helps to break down hard-to-digest fibers.
And, while cooking a pot of dried beans does take a bit of forethought, it only takes about 5 minutes of actual hands on time. Simply pour the beans into a bowl, cover them with water and let them sit overnight. The next day, drain the beans, dump them into a Dutch Oven, saucepan, or slow cooker, add some herbs and spices, and let them simmer until tender, creamy, and delicious. Done and done.
Every time I cook a pot of beans, I save some for beans on toast.
Baked beans on toast is a classic British dish that most likely came into fashion during WWII because beans were a cheap protein that most people could get their hands on without too much trouble. It's exactly what it sounds like - a can of baked beans, heated and spooned over a few pieces of toast.
It's ok. I mean... if you haven't got anything else to eat besides a can of baked beans and some bread, it'll most definitely do. But I think, for the most part, we can do better.
This recipe is more of a loose formula for improvisation than an actual recipe. It involves little more than cooking some beans with veggies, greens, and spices and then piling them onto toast along with a few vinegary condiments like sun dried tomatoes and banana peppers.
In truth, it's one of my all time favorite meals because it offers the chance to transform some beans and whatever veggies happen to be rolling around in my refrigerator into something incredibly delicious, satisfying, and nutritions in roughly 30 minutes.
Here's what you do....
#1. Cook some white beans, or open up a couple of cans.
Plan on about 1 cup of beans per person. If you've cooked some dried beans reserve about 1 cup of the cooking liquid because that stuff has a lot of great flavor. If using canned, drain and rinse the beans and use broth (or just water) for the liquid in this recipe.
#2. Sauté some veggies.
Chop up an onion and sauté it in some olive oil. Then add whatever vegetables you like or happen to have around. My favorites include bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, cabbage, or carrots. The important thing with the vegetables is not which vegetables you use but how you chop them. Try to cut them into pieces that are all fairly close to the same size so that they cook evenly and at the same rate.
I also like to chop them into pieces that are somewhat the same size as the beans so that it's possible to get a forkful that includes a little bit of everything.
#3. Add garlic and spices.
Add whatever kind of dried herbs or spices sound good to you. At the moment, I'm obsessed with Urfa pepper, so that's been a given the last several times I've made this dish. Other great options are thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, paprika, chili powder, cayenne or red pepper flakes, or any kind of seasoning blend.
#4. Add the beans and some liquid.
Dump the beans into the pan and pour in that reserved bean cooking liquid, broth or water. Let everything simmer away until about half of the liquid has evaporated, and your kitchen smells like heaven.
#5. Then, add some greens.
Adding a few handfuls of greens is about more than nutrition, although the greens definitely add that. Greens like spinach, kale, or chard add a touch of bitterness that compliments and accentuates the creaminess of the beans and the flavor of pretty much any kind of vegetable you choose.
#6. A splash of acid makes everything better.
Adding a splash of acid at the end of cooking is one of the best tricks in the book for making a dish taste bright, fresh and flavorful. There are 5 general categories of flavor that register on the human tongue: bitter, salty, sweet, umami, and sour. The very best dishes lean into how these flavors balance and compliment each other.
In this dish, a tablespoon or two of lemon juice brightens and sharpens the flavors of all the other ingredients, making everything taste more fresh and intense than it did just seconds before.
#7. The star of every great sandwich is the condiments.
Beans on toast is, after all, nothing more than an open faced sandwich. And the difference between a really great sandwich and a mediocre one is the condiments. Turkey and cheese is fine. Turkey and cheese with mustard, mayo, and cranberry sauce is exceptional. Tuna salad is fine. Tuna salad with spicy pickles, roasted red peppers, and arugula is delectable.
Even though there is already a TON of savory, sour, bitter, and even a touch of sweetness in the saucy beans and veggies, layering up the toast with some butter or mayo (hello, creaminess!) a few banana peppers, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, or chili peppers takes beans and toast to a whole other level.
Add whatever you like. Briny, vinegary and/ or spicy flavors are particularly delightful. I have two favorite combinations, depending on my mood and what happens to be in my refrigerator.
- Butter, Calabrian peppers, and roasted red peppers, or...
- Mayo, spicy banana peppers, and sun dried tomatoes.
More delicious recipes with beans:
- Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Tamale Pie with White Beans and Chorizo
- Vegetarian Chili with Pico de Gallo and Chimichurri Sauce
- Black Bean Tomato Soup
- Veggie Black Bean Nachos
- White Bean and Kale Soup with Wild Rice
- Black Bean Enchiladas with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce
- Black Bean Soup with Pickled Onions and Cilantro Oil
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #alittleandalot on Instagram.
- 4 cups white beans - cooked or canned beans (See notes below.)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 - 3 cups of chopped veggies such as bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, cabbage, or carrots (See note below)
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
- 1 - 2 tsp dried herbs, any kind you like in any combination (suggestions: thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, paprika, chili powder, cayenne or red pepper flakes, Urfa or Aleppo pepper, Italian seasoning blend)
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth - OR reserved liquid from cooking dried beans (You can also just use water.)
- 5 oz kale, spinach, or chard (or any kind of dark leafy greens), leaves only, washed and torn into pieces that are roughly 2-3 inches
- 1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- One loaf sturdy, country style bread
- 2 tbsp Butter or Mayonaise
- Condiment options: sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, banana peppers, Calabrian peppers or any kind of chilies, any kind of pickled veggies, and/or pickled onions
- About 1 cup shredded hard cheese such as parmesan, Romano, pecorino, or asiago (optional)
- If cooking dried beans from scratch, be sure to reserve about 1 cup (or more) of the cooking liquid. If using canned beans, drain and rinse the beans in a colander in the sink.
- Add the olive oil and diced onion to a large non-stick or well-seasoned skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the chopped veggies, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Add the diced garlic, dried herbs, and about 1 tsp each salt and pepper. (If you're sensative to salt, start with ½ tsp.) Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
- Add the beans to the skillet. Pour in the reserved bean cooking liquid or broth. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has reduced by about half.
- Add the greens, stirring to mix. Let cook until the greens are wilted and tender and the liquid has reduced into a sauce. You want the beans to be saucy and not dry, but not swimming in broth.
- Remove from the heat and add 1 tablespoon or lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice and/or salt. Cover to keep warm while you prepare the toast.
- Toast slices of bread - depending on the size of the loaf, you'll probably want two per person.
- Spread the toast with a bit of butter or mayonaise then top with any and all condiments that you are using.
- Spoon the beans over the toast, sprinkle with cheese if using, and serve immediatly.
About the beans:
- Cooking dried beans in a slow cooker, on the stovetop, or in the oven takes about 5 minutes of hands-on work and results in creamier, more flavorful beans than anything in a can. I usually let the beans cook the day before I want to use them, dumping everything into the slow cooker, dutch oven, or saucepan and letting it simmer while I go about my day. If you opt to do the same, save about 1 cup of the cooking liquid for this recipe.
- This recipe is written to serve 4 people, but can easily be reduced or multiplied to serve as few or as many as you like. However many people you are serving, aim for about 1 cup of beans per person.
About the veggies:
- This recipe is a great way to use up the leftover odds and ends in your refrigerator crisper drawer. The important thing to remember is to chop the veggies into into similar sized pieces so that they cook evenly. Great options include: green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, or yellow squash.
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The Spice Way - Premium Aleppo Pepper
Urfa Biber Pepper by Crimson and Clove (2.6 oz.)
Divina Chopped Calabrian Peppers, 10.6 Oz.
Organic Great Northern Beans (Dried, Non-GMO, Kosher, Raw, Sproutable, Bulk Seeds, Product of the USA) — 5 Pounds
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet with Glass Cover
Serving Size:About 1 ½ cups of beans and veggies
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 756Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 1544mgCarbohydrates: 155gFiber: 36gSugar: 31gProtein: 43g