I have a lot of opinions about beans, and today you’re going to hear about them.
Sit down, have a cup of something hot and strong, and hold onto your trousers; we’re talking about beans.
The Beast From the East. Storm Emma. The last few days have been an absolute whirlwind for those of us in the UK. Some of us have run out of wine (sob), while others are considering eating our own children due to the lack of proper store cupboard management (Shaun, I’m looking at you). Others still are resorting to some interesting dinner combinations:
Just like the recent French Nutella scramble, we here in the UK are divided as the madness unfolds; there are those who are happy to stay warm and wait for it to all blow over (see the above innovators), and those who have bought out their local supermarket’s supply of milk, bread, and frozen pizzas “just in case”.
As bread dealers open up their trench coats and start doling out squashed loaves of Hovis to flocks of desperate pedestrians, I have to wonder why people don’t just depend on their beans.
You’d be mistaken in thinking I’m just talking about baked beans (although I’d be surprised if there was a household in the country that didn’t have a tin of Heinz or similar in their midst) – I’m actually a recent but passionate convert to tinned beans and pulses of almost any kind.* I have an adapted recipe for chipotle cannellini beans that are incredible on toasted sourdough or rye with a sprinkling of feta; I regularly make black bean chilli, either on its own or to fill cheesy baked enchiladas; and there’s nothing better than realising you’ve still got a tin of chickpeas left at the back of the cupboard when you’re really craving a curry.
Reliability, thy name is beans.
In that vein, here are a list of store cupboard staples that I’m never without; we can get through this storm together, friends:
- black beans**
- cannellini beans
- baked beans
- tinned green lentils
- split red lentils
- chopped tomatoes
- salt, pepper, paprika, chilli flakes, and chilli powder
- garlic (my partner’s parents give us plenty of the smoked stuff that they bring back from France, and it has a much longer shelf life)
- stock cubes (chicken and vegetable)
- vegetable/sunflower/olive oil
- vinegars – red, white, and balsamic
- soy sauce (I accumulate variants at an alarming rate. The best options are reduced salt and light soy sauce, but sometimes only dark will do)
- Worcestershire sauce
- brown rice
- risotto rice
- plain flour
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but when the apocalypse comes you can be sure that I will have at least the above available; I’m not saying it’s impossible to be sad when you’ve got a cupboard full of smoked garlic, but it’s certainly difficult.
So, while the first recipe I put up is likely to be fish pie sans bean*** (I work with what I’m given, and my freezer is going to explode if I put one more reduced price fillet of haddock in there), please be aware that this blog is not for the faint of heart, nor the hater of bean.
(The word ‘bean’ has lost all meaning for me now. Bean. Bean. Bean. Send help.)
*Except kidney beans. I’m sorry, they just rub me up the wrong way. The sight of them as I am served chilli makes the light from the sun dim, and my eyes shimmer with unshed tears. Obviously I’ll eat them anyway because I wasn’t raised in a gutter, but know that it causes me great pain to do so.
**I recommend getting all of your tinned beans in water to avoid the high salt content that comes with the alternatives; that way, you can control your own salt intake, which is ideal for people like me, who hate draining and rinsing their beans. Who has the time? There’s a storm on, don’tcha know.
***A blanket apology to all French people, because I’m not even going to look up the generic word for ‘bean’, and I don’t think ‘sans haricots‘ looks as good. I’m sorry. So very sorry.