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Marinated beans: A shortcut to quick, delicious meals

Marinated beans can be a fantastic addition to your meal planning for several reasons. They add flavor, nutrition, and versatility to a variety of dishes. I regularly keep a couple big jars of marinated beans in the fridge all the time. One with Black-eyed Peas, perhaps, and another with those big, fat, meaty Butterbeans (aka Lima Beans). There are so many ways to customize these jars of marinated goodness that you can easily make it your own.

Here's how marinated beans can help enhance your meal planning:

  1. Convenience: Marinating beans in advance saves you time during meal preparation. You can have a batch of marinated beans ready in the refrigerator, making it easier to put together quick and delicious meals.

  2. Flavor: Marinated beans are infused with a combination of herbs, spices, oils, and acidic ingredients like vinegar or citrus juice. This adds depth and complexity to the flavor of the beans, making your meals more interesting and appetizing.

  3. Versatility: Marinated beans can be used in a wide range of dishes. They can be added to salads, grain bowls, wraps, tacos, pasta dishes, and more. The flavorful marinade enhances the overall taste of these dishes.

  4. Nutrition: Beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. By marinating beans, you not only enhance their taste but also boost the nutritional value of your meals.

  5. Meat Replacement: Marinated beans can be a satisfying alternative to meat. They provide a hearty texture and can be used as a filling for sandwiches, burritos, and more, making them a great option for vegetarians and whole-food vegans.

  6. Meal Prep: Marinating beans as part of your meal prep routine allows you to create a foundation for a week's worth of meals. You can use them as a base for different recipes, reducing the need to start from scratch every time you cook.

  7. Balanced Meals: Adding marinated beans to your meals can help you create well-balanced dishes. The combination of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates from the beans can help keep you full and satisfied.

  8. Customization: You can customize the marinade to suit your taste preferences. Whether you prefer a spicy, tangy, or savory flavor profile, you can adjust the marinade ingredients to match your desired taste. This is a perfect place to express regional or cultural foodways ... Latin, Asian, Deep South, Caribbean and more.

  9. Economical: Beans are affordable and widely available, making them a cost-effective ingredient to include in your meal planning. Eating more beans can help save money on groceries while allowing you to eat healthier.

  10. Sustainability: Beans are a great choice if you're concerned about climate change. They use less land and precious water resources than animal-based proteins.

To incorporate marinated beans into your meal planning, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Beans: Select your favorite type of beans, such as black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, Italian Brown Beans, Fava beans, Cannalini or pinto beans. There's a world of wonderful beans out there, so you've got a lot to try.

  2. Prepare Marinade: Create a marinade using ingredients like olive oil, vinegar, citrus juice, minced garlic, herbs (such as basil, cilantro, or parsley), spices (like cumin, paprika, or chili powder), and salt and pepper.

  3. Marinate Beans: Combine the beans and marinade in a container or resealable bag. Let them marinate in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, ideally overnight, to allow the flavors to meld.

  4. Store: Keep the marinated beans in the refrigerator for up to a week, using them as needed for various meals. Actually, I find that they 'keep' longer than a week ... more like two. But, we love 'em so much that they're usually gone before that.

  5. Incorporate into Meals: Add the marinated beans to salads, wraps, sandwiches, bowls, or any other dishes you like. They can serve as a main ingredient or a flavorful topping.

By including marinated beans in your meal planning, you'll be able to create delicious and nutritious meals with minimal effort while enjoying the benefits of their versatility and flavor.

Taco Salad will please the whole family ... and they can customize it as they will.

If you love Taco (or Burrito!) Tuesday, simply add some of those beans to, perhaps, some quickly sautéed Zucchini or yellow squash, onions, thinly sliced sweet red pepper and maybe a bit of rice ( I always keep a bag or two of cooked rice in the freezer for quick meals). Warm some tortillas and roll burritos, or use store-bought or home-baked taco shells or tortilla chips arranged around the sides of the bowl. You're looking at dinner in 30 minutes easily! The last thing you'll need is your favorite salsa or Pico de Gallo, and maybe some sliced avocado.

Another way that I love to use marinated beans is tossed on a salad. The beans elevate a simple green salad of baby spinach, kale and similar greens into something restaurant worthy. And, if you're going BIG ... say with chilled, cooked pasta ( l love the S-shaped tube pasta, Cavatappi, used this way!), greens and chopped tomato, the addition of the beans makes a complete meal.

Marinated beans can be the finishing touch to a satisfying 'bowl' ... cooked grains (which you should keep portions of in the freezer for fast meals), possibly a quick salad of sliced tomatoes, roasted garlic and massaged Lacinto Kale and the beans.

You can also go all British, and ladle those beans on a fluffy, baked Russet or Sweet Potato. Pair this with a big salad, or some steamed broccoli, and you've got a meal that will satisfy right down to the ground.

A basic marinade for beans is simple to put together and can be easily customized to your taste preferences. Here's a basic recipe for marinating beans:


  • 2 15-ounce cans cooked beans (such as black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, edamame, cannelini, fava, butter beans or pinto beans) Feel free to mix 'em up!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or a neutral oil if you're going Asian inspired)

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (such as red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar ... and don't forget Seasoned Rice Wine vinegar for an Asian approach with Edamame!)

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs (such as oregano, basil, thyme, or a mix)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional Additions:

  • Juice and zest of half a lemon or lime

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or chili powder for a bit of heat

  • Chopped fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, etc.)

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or whole grain mustard

  • Honey or maple syrup for a touch of sweetness

  • Add a dried Bay Leaf or two

  • Calabrian Crushed chili pepper paste/spread/sauce for a more assertive heat. This works great with big meaty butter beans. Add dried Oregano, Marjoram and whole cloves of roasted garlic along with slivers of lemon zest.

  • If Asian-inspired is your jam, using edamame, consider adding very thin slices of fresh ginger, seasoned rice wine vinegar, a neutral oil, rehydrated sea vegetables like Wakame or Dulse, a bit of red pepper flakes, and some thin slices of lemon zest.


  1. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, dried herbs, ground cumin, salt, and pepper. If using any optional additions, add them at this stage.

  2. Add the cooked beans to the marinade and gently toss to coat the beans evenly. Make sure the beans are well coated with the marinade.

  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the beans and marinade to an airtight container.

  4. Place the marinating beans in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours, or ideally overnight. This allows the flavors to meld and infuse into the beans.

  5. Before using the marinated beans in your meals, give them a gentle stir to redistribute the marinade.

  6. Use the marinated beans in salads, wraps, sandwiches, grain bowls, or any other dishes of your choice.

Remember that this is just a basic recipe, and you can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste preferences. Feel free to experiment with different herbs, spices, and flavorings to create your own unique marinated bean recipe that complements your favorite dishes.

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