Beans are a versatile ingredient found in cuisines around the globe, all the way from Nigeria to Brazil. Not only are they a nutritional powerhouse, but they also provide the base of many delicious plant-based dishes.
We asked four colleagues at ProVeg to tell us about their favourite native bean dish from around the world with a plant-based twist. Keep reading for an entire day’s worth of inspiration – breakfast from the UK, lunch from Brazil, dinner from Hungary and a snack from Nigeria to finish!
Beans on Toast – Victoria, UK
Beans on toast is a quintessentially British comfort food that epitomises simplicity and comfort. In this British classic, canned beans in a rich tomato sauce are served on slices of toasted bread. The combination of sweet and savoury beans with the crunchy toast creates a delightful contrast in textures, while the subtle seasoning of salt and spices enhances the flavours.
Some cafés and restaurants in the UK will serve up ‘homemade’ baked beans where the dish has been created from scratch using cannellini or butter beans in a smoky tomato sauce, spiked with paprika and plenty of salt and pepper.
The convenience and affordability of this meal, along with its ability to provide a warm and hearty experience with just a few simple ingredients, have made it a go-to favourite for Brits of all ages. You can enjoy this versatile dish for any meal of the day, but for me, it’s certainly a breakfast of champions!
Feijoada – Marco, Brazil
Whenever I’m asked what a Brazilian’s favourite dish is, I don’t hesitate to say it’s feijoada: a hearty and rich stew built around black beans and a staple of Brazil’s multicultural history. The original version is a bean stew from Portugal which took some inspiration from the French cassoulet but was ultimately heavily influenced by African heritage and cuisine.
Feijoada is traditionally made with a variety of cheap salted and smoked pork cuts, but it doesn’t need meat to be delicious and complex. My mum, a lifelong vegetarian, always made two versions at home – the traditional meat version and a plant-based feijoada. By using smoked tofu, lots of fresh coriander, cumin seeds, and bay leaves, you can make a deeply savoury feijoada, which is the perfect meal for a weekend lunch with friends and family. Serve with white rice, stir-fried collard greens, orange slices, and plenty of farofa aka fried cassava flour, a perfect crunchy side dish to soak up the feijoada broth.
Babgulyás – Daniel, Hungary
When introducing someone to Hungarian cuisine, I always take them to my favourite restaurant in Budapest and recommend they try the soup of my childhood.
Babgulyás (bean goulash) is a plant-based variation of the classic Hungarian goulash. Traditionally, goulash is made with beef (the word gulyás comes from the herdsmen who look after the cows), but the bean version is so rich in flavour that you won’t miss the meat.
In this dish, beans are simmered in a fragrant paprika-infused broth along with a medley of potatoes, onions, garlic, celery, and other vegetables. Garnished with fresh parsley and served with a side of crusty bread or dumplings, babgulyás offers an authentic taste of Hungary with a hearty, plant-based twist.
Moin moin – Tunmise, Nigeria
Moin Moin, a savoury steamed bean cake, is more than just a dish; it’s a piece of my heritage, my identity, and my childhood.
This Nigerian masterpiece starts by turning black-eyed peas into a vibrant paste spiced with red pepper, ginger, and garlic. But the real magic lies in the love and tradition infused at every step.
As a child, I remember watching my grandmother, a Moin Moin maestro, create this dish and spoon the batter into banana leaves, releasing the aroma of earthy beans, spices, and anticipation.
Moin Moin has a savoury, slightly spicy flavour and smooth texture, making it an excellent accompaniment to meals, served with steamed white rice and fried plantain, or as a standalone snack. Moin Moin’s versatility and rich taste have made it a cherished addition to my culinary repertoire.
Moin Moin is a culinary storyteller, with each Nigerian region offering its unique twist.
It is more than just a bean cake; it’s a slice of history, a taste of my culture, and a flavour that transcends borders. Moin Moin is my love letter to the world from the heart of Nigeria.
Beans and legumes have been a dietary staple for centuries, offering a rich source of protein, vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and dietary fibre. It’s not surprising that almost all national dietary guidelines recommend the regular consumption of legumes and pulses.
A day to celebrate legumes!
Beyond their culinary diversity, beans offer a myriad of health benefits. They are a rich source of protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, making them a staple in plant-based diets.
In this article, we’ve sampled the rich, diverse, and flavourful world of bean-based dishes. These versatile legumes have brought joy and nourishment to people and transcended borders and cultures. So, next time you’re in the kitchen, consider whipping up one of these delightful bean dishes and take your taste buds on a global adventure.