Leftovers: Bean Spreads

There have been lots of black beans in my life as of late, where they find form as black bean burgers, black bean chili (my favorite recipe being from Deborah Madison’s Greens Cookbook), and those amazing flourless black bean brownies. Sometimes extra beans get thrown together with brown rice.

My new fave thing to do with beans is spreads. Here you can let some creativity loose and combine whatever ingredients you have on hand to make something cheap, versatile, and awesome. You can use black beans, of course, but any other bean will do. Each variety has its own particular, subtle flavor. Lima, Cannellini, Adzuki, Flageolet, fresh Favas — get to know your beans!

The recipe below is for a basic savory spread, and can be paired with bread, chip, or meaty item. What about a sweet bean spread, à la mochi, you say? I’ve yet to try it, but it could be good.  Chocolate beans?  Maple beans?  Fruity beans?


2 cups beans, soaked (about 1 cup dry), canned, or leftovered
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. oil (sesame, olive, peanut — consider your other flavors when choosing)
1 tsp. salt

If using soaked beans: put them in a pot, cover with water about an inch above the surface of the beans, add a bay leaf and dash salt, and cook until soft, about an hour. Or use a pressure cooker, way faster.

Heat the oil and salt in a pan. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent and tender. (You could get wild here and caramelize the onions, roast the garlic.) In a food processor, blend the beans until they are a smooth paste. Add the garlic and onion and purée.


  • Fresh herbs
  • Horseradish
  • Roasted peppers
  • Hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, pepitas, pecans, walnuts, etc.
  • Chipotle or hot sauce
  • Miso
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Fresh ginger
  • Tomato paste
  • Curry paste
  • Soy sauce & sesame seeds
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Insert item from your pantry here

This will keep, sealed, for up to a week in the fridge.


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