There are two remarkable things about beans that I adore. First, as legumes they can smartly use the nitrogen from the atmosphere with the help of a horde of N-fixing bacteria that associate to their roots. In the long run, beans can enrich the deposits of nitrogen available in the soil, thereby offering a variety of benefits for other plants, the soil, and the environment. Furthermore, in regions where farmers are not able to access artificial fertilizers or in organic food production, beans provide an opportunity to obtain “free” nitrogen from the air into the plant.
The second quality of beans that I adore is related to their nutritional benefits. Beans have a high content of protein. When transiting to a vegan diet, beans are a great substitute for animal protein. On top of that, bean are an amazing source of soluble fiber, helping to control the spike in blood sugar and making you fill satisfied for much longer. Beans are also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus and iron. Therefore, eating more beans will only rock your health.
As a Brazilian, I grew up eating a lot of beans, mainly of the black and “carioquinha” (brown) types. Not long ago I’ve started to explore other types of beans and came across an interesting type of white bean in a Greek restaurant – the so-called “gigante bean”. It totally justifies the name because they are much larger than other beans. What I like the most about these type of beans, besides their size, is their nutty taste. They are perfect for spreads, soups, stews, mashed or salads.
On the recipe below I mixed all the goodies and nutty taste of the gigante beans with my favorite Thai red curry and added a pinch of sweetness and extra flavor from the plums. I call it “Gigante beans with coconut red curry and plums”.
- 1 cup (250 ml) of cooked and drained gigante beans
- -1 clove of garlic
- - ½ onion
- - 1 tablespoon of red curry paste or powder (check the ingredients to make sure it doesn’t contain animal products)
- -1 cup of creamy coconut
- - 1 diced tomato or 3 tablesppon of canned diced tomato
- - half red bell pepper
- - a handful of spinach
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- - 3 plums (works fine with nectarines or peaches too)
- - 1 tbs of maple syrup or sugar
- - 1 tbs of oil
- - 1/2 tbs of coconut oil
- 1. Cut plums in half. Melt the coconut oil in a skillet and add the plums and the sugar, sturring occasionally, until the plums are slightly caramelized. Reserve.
- 2. In a pan, heat 1 tbs of oil. Add 1 chopped onion and 2 pieces of garlic. Stir till the garlic and onions are tender. Add the tomato and red bell pepper. Cook for 2-3 min more in medium heat. Add the tablespoon of curry paste (or less depending on how spicy you like it), coconut cream and drained gigante beans. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 min. Add 1 cup of spinach and the slices of caramelized plums, mix gently, taste for salt and it’s done! You can serve it with rice, or toasted bread!