3 Great New Ways To Cook With Beans
3 Great New Ways To Cook With Beans

3 Great New Ways To Cook With Beans

Founder of the Bold Bean Company, Amelia Christie-Miller is aiming to change the public perception of beans and show how versatile and vibrant they can be. Her new cookbook features her own recipes alongside those from contributors such as Thomasina Miers, Anna Jones and Melissa Hemsley. Here’s why Amelia thinks now is the time to reconsider how we use beans – along with three great recipes from the book.
By Heather Steele

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Beans have had it tough. They’ve been soft boiled and hard done by; unloved and side dished. Confined to the back of the cupboard and synonymous with tasteless hippy fodder. I started my life hating beans. They were dusty, dull things I avoided with a vengeance. Cold, tasteless three bean salads, sickly baked beans from a tin and bullet-like chickpeas floating in a curry – no thank you. Fast forward 20 years and I’m running a bean brand to try and persuade you that they’re the world's best food.

Like most interesting stories, it started with a hangover. I was on a foreign exchange swap in Madrid and after another night filled with broken Spanish, I found myself hungry and lazy. I’d bought some Judion beans – specified by Nigel Slater for a recipe – and they were all I had in the house. I opened the jar and spooned one into my mouth. I distinctly remember closing my eyes to properly immerse myself in that moment. It was incredible. It was the taste of natural, creamy sumptuousness. That’s when I realised beans didn’t have to be sad and soulless.

Alison Roman is selling a t-shirt with ‘White Beans’ on the front and The River Café is selling a jar for £18. Working with those at the forefront of our food culture meant I saw beans differently; I saw them as something delicious and aspirational, and the obsession deepened. But I also realised something else: I was very alone among my peers in this bean obsession. I started to unpick why I was so alone. It came down to two things: the quality of the beans I was eating and the #beanspo I was seeing from the chefs I was working with. When Covid hit and I was made redundant from my hospitality role, I decided to turn this fire of fear, fury and excitement into something that would make beans cool. I decided to launch a brand that would make people obsessed with beans – and Bold Bean Co was born.


Here are three great recipes to try at home…

Green Goddess Salad

A nod to the old-school classic, this version makes the dressing the base for some epic toppings: garlic, chilli, honey-glazed halloumi and savoury white beans, with the grilled lettuce wedges as the centrepiece. In many ways, it’s not really a salad at all, but a killer veggie main. Serve this alone, or with some fresh toast to mop up any dressing that remains.

Total Time
20 Minutes
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 romaine or cos lettuces, sliced in half with the stalks intact
700g jar of white beans, drained
100g of edamame beans
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
For the honey-glazed halloumi:
225g of halloumi, cut into 2cm cubes
2 tbsp of runny honey
1 tsp of dried chilli flakes
Juice of ½ lemon
For the green goddess dressing:
50g of mixed fresh herbs: tarragon, dill, parsley & mint
1 tbsp of capers
Juice of 1 lemon
150g of Greek yogurt
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 tbsp of mayonnaise (optional)
1 garlic clove, crushed
½-1 tsp of Dijon or English mustard
Step 1

First, put your halloumi in a shallow bowl and slather the cubes in the honey, chilli flakes and lemon juice. Put in the fridge to marinate for 15 minutes.

Step 2

To make the dressing, put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Season to taste.

Step 3

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wide frying pan over a high heat. Add the lettuce ‘wedges’ cut-side down, and fry for 2 minutes until they’re a little browned. You’re looking to char the underside without cooking the lettuce. Set aside.

Step 4

Reduce the heat to medium-high and, using the same pan, heat the remaining oil. Add the marinated halloumi cubes, ensuring they don’t stick together. Fry the halloumi for 2-3 minutes on each side, checking regularly to see that it doesn’t burn.

Step 5

To serve, pour half of the dressing on to a large serving platter. Top with the lettuce wedges, then dress the surrounding area with the white beans. Scatter over the edamame and top with the glazed halloumi. Serve immediately, with the rest of the dressing on the side. You can use any left over for another cracking salad as it keeps for 3-5 days.

Miso Beans

Japanese cooking rarely involves beans within the haricot family, but the combination of umami-rich miso paste with creamy, soft white beans is a thing of magic. It also lends itself to so many variations, which feel different each time. All that’s required is texture (crunch, bite) and acidity (through a pickle or otherwise). We like loading the warm miso beans into bowls and topping them with kimchi, cooked green veggies and chilli oil, but you could also serve up a more refined dish, using the beans as a side to slow-cooked aubergine or pork and a crunchy cucumber salad.

Total Time
10 Minutes
25g of butter or plant-based alternative
1 shallot or 4 spring onions (use the white parts for the base and the green parts as a topping) or 1 small white onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
700g jar of white beans, with their bean stock
Juice of ½ lemon (or ½ tbsp of rice vinegar)
2 tsp of miso (we used brown miso, but use whatever you have)
Suggested toppings:
1 handful of cooked broccoli, or any other green vegetable
1 handful of grated carrot
1 tbsp of kimchi, pickled radishes or pickled cucumbers
Soft-boiled egg, shredded cooked chicken or pork, or fried tofu
Freshly chopped coriander or chives
Chilli oil, to taste
1 handful of chopped roasted cashews, peanuts or sesame seeds
Step 1

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over a low heat. Add the shallot and cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Once translucent, add the beans, along with all their bean stock.

Step 2

Let the beans bubble away for a few minutes, mashing them up as you go to reach your desired consistency. Add the lemon juice and miso paste and stir to combine. Keep cooking for a couple of minutes, adding a splash of water if the mixture looks too thick, just to make sure the miso has melted through the beans.

Step 3

Pour your miso beans into a bowl and top with whatever you fancy.

Red Bean Ragu With Ricotta & Parmesan

Total Time
1 Hour
5 tbsp of olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 carrots, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
500g of mushrooms, finely chopped
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried) (optional)
2 small onions or 3 banana shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp of dried mixed herbs or oregano (or freshly chopped herbs: rosemary, thyme & parsley)
½ tsp of dried chilli flakes
300ml of red wine or red vermouth
700g jar of red beans with their bean stock
400g can of chopped tomatoes
1 chicken or veggie stock cube
250g of ricotta (or torn mozzarella, goat’s curd, burrata or queso fresco)
500g of long pasta
100g of parmesan (or pecorino, grana padano or veggie alternative), grated
1 small bunch of basil (about 15g), optional
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Step 1

Heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan over a medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, bay leaves and onions, along with ½ teaspoon of salt. Give the mixture a good stir so that the veggies are coated, then sweat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are beginning to soften and have shrunk significantly. It may seem like a lot of oil, but when creating a meat-free ragu, you need to bring in the fat from elsewhere, so don’t be afraid of this!

Step 2

Add the garlic, herbs, and chilli flakes. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 1 minute. If there is still some liquid in the pan from the mushrooms, cook for a little longer until this is reduced and some of the base begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Step 3

Pour in the red wine or vermouth, deglazing any veg that had begun to caramelise at the bottom of the pan. Allow the alcohol to cook off for 5-8 minutes, then reduce the heat to low simmer and add the red beans with their bean or veg stock, breaking them up in your hands as you go to allow some to thicken the sauce. If using unsalted canned beans, make sure to add a good pinch of salt here.

Step 4

Tip in the chopped tomatoes and mix through. At this point, add the stock cube, breaking it up with your fingers and letting it dissolve in the liquid of the stew. Bubble for 20 minutes for jarred beans, or 26-28 minutes for canned, adding a splash of water if it becomes too dry.

Step 5

While you’re waiting for the ragu to thicken, spoon the ricotta into a bowl. Lightly mash using a fork, and season with a pinch of salt.

Step 6

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions (but make sure your water is salty!). Once cooked, drain, then drizzle with some olive oil. Using tongs, tumble the pasta on to six plates. Spoon over the ragu and dollop the ricotta on top. Finish with a generous grating of Parmesan and torn basil leaves (if using).

Bold Beans: Recipes To Get Your Pulse Racing by Amelia Christie-Miller is out now and available to buy here.

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