Beans and garlic, sitting in a tree

A few weeks ago, I watched a Rick Bayless cooking show where he mashed together a can of black beans with crushed garlic as a spread for a sandwich. This idea is so simple, yet I’d never thought to try it. I had to make some.

Sure enough, the garlicy flavor had made sweet aromatic love to the beans, creating a pungent spreadable base with plenty of uses.

Below are just two recipes for this delicious combination, but there are probably 46 million other uses as well. My guess is that mashed lentils would also work, and mashed garbanzo beans with garlic is pretty much half-way to hummus.

What’s important is to balance the richness of the garlic in the beans with fresh and bright sour flavors like tomato, hot sauce, or citrus.

Mashed Beans and Garlic

  • 1 or 2 minced large garlic cloves (I like to use a press for this so the garlic flavor really distributes)
  • 1 15 oz canned beans, or roughly 1 1/2 cups soaked dry beans and liquid
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Add oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt to a pan over medium heat. Cook for about 30 seconds to elicit a strong garlic flavor. For less intensity, adjust heat to medium low and cook until garlic becomes translucent, or about 3 minutes.

Dump in beans and liquid, then stir to combine. Use a potato masher to break up most of the beans, creating a thick chunky paste. Cook until heated through, or roughly 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust seasoning as desired, remove from heat, and reserve.

Black Bean and Garlic Breakfast Burrito with Cotijo Cheese and Lemon-Tomato Salsa

(makes 3 burritos)

  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 medium lemons
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 burrito-size tortillas
  • 3/4 cup reserved mashed black beans and garlic
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotijo cheese
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 3 large eggs, beaten until fully combined

Dice the tomato into small cubes and place in a small bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut away the peel from the lemon including all white parts, then cut out the fleshy wedges between each membrane. Dice these wedges then combine with the tomatoes and salt and pepper in the bowl. Mix well.

Keep the tortillas warm and pliable by wrapping them in foil and keeping them in a low temperature oven.

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a small non-stick pan, then scramble the eggs with a dash of salt and pepper.

Lay out the tortillas and spread each with the beans, then top with cojito cheese, scrambled eggs, and the salsa.

Add your favorite hot sauce to finish. Enjoy and follow up with some nice mint tea to improve your newly acquired garlic breath.

Cannellini Bean and Garlic Bruschetta

(makes roughly 3 cups)

  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 8 large leaves of basil
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Italian baguette, sliced and toasted or grilled
  • reserved mashed Cannellini beans and garlic

Dice the tomato into small cubes and chiffonade the basil into thin strips, then combine in a bowl with the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

Smear the baguette slices with the mashed beans and garlic, then top with the tomato mixture. Add extra basil and enjoy while discussing the finer points of Leguminosae and Allium Sativum.

3 comments posted

  1. Posted by Living the Balanced Life - 04/11/2011

    This looks really good. I am trying to eat more beans and this is a great way to use them!

  2. Posted by Claudia - 04/11/2011

    It’s fantastic with lentils and on some toast it’s a really cheap breakfast! Here’sy bare-bones version:


    250g lentils
    1 medium onion, chopped
    2.5 tblspns butter
    2 teaspns curry powder
    2.5 cups chicken stock
    1 teaspn salt

    Soak lentils in enough water to cover for 1.5 hours.
    Drain the lentils and mix in a saucepan with onion, butter, curry powder and stock.
    ​Bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 mins.
    Stir in salt and cook until the mixture is thick.

  3. Posted by Claudia - 04/11/2011

    Sorry for the typo. I also forgot to mention that while my basic recipe doesn’t include garlic, it certainly does go well with it. The same goes for ginger.

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