6 Vegetarian Bean Recipes for Perfect Summer Meals

Fresh Shelled Cranberry Beans

Few foods are as healthy and versatile to eat than beans. But in the heat of summer? Cool off and power up with these summer vegetarian bean recipes and ideas.

For vegans and vegetarians, they’re indispensable. Beans pack a punch of protein and fiber as well as numerous vitamins and minerals. They’re full of flavor, versatility and let’s not forget, way cheaper than a steak.

We often think of beans as stewed up in a chili or another heavy, wintery dish—not exactly the best summertime eats. But there are countless ways to enjoy beans in the heat of summer! Here are some favorite vegetarian bean recipes:

1. DIY bean burgers: Of course you can unwrap a pack from your supermarket freezer section or you could make your own for less money (and with fewer ingredients). Black beans are the go-to bean for burger recipes, but you can really use any kind. Flore, a popular vegan restaurant in Los Angeles makes a to-die-for chickpea burger. Throw your favorite into the mix and see what happens.

2. Pinto bean and corn cakes: Sounds like a burger? Well, sort of. But not quite. More like a fritter, bean cakes are smaller, appetizer style and can be eaten without any bun. They’re perfect topped with guac, salsa or (veggie) sour cream, and are great for a picnic or barbecue.

3. Bean salad: Cooked and cooled down, beans lend themselves exceptionally well to the salad arena. Tossed with a light vinaigrette, some crunchy veggies like carrots, celery and peppers, along with a ripe heirloom tomato and—voila!—you’ve got yourself an outstanding summer side dish. Or, pile a big scoop onto a bed of fresh summer greens for a whole meal. Try adding dill to light beans like fava and lima for a summery flavor.

4. Bean dip: Barbecues are nonstop eating fests. Long before the grill even heats up, mouths are chomping on some snack or another. Instead of salty store-bought salsas and dips, make your own bean dip. White, pink or black beans all work really well here, as do lentils. A little seasoning, fresh herbs, some good olive oil and a high-speed blender  (along with your cooked beans, of course!), and you’ve got a dip or a spread.

5. Pasta and beans: It’s a staple in this vegan house (and I hear in much of Italy), but we don’t see it too often on menus. White beans with pasta is simply scrumptious. I use gluten-free rice noodles, lots of fresh olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and seasonal veggies (right now we’re all about the zucchini). Toss them all together, top with nutritional yeast and enjoy!

6. Fries: The true beans of the season are the many varieties of green beans. Those long, slender and crunchy delights are simply summer, and the perfect shape to turn into French fries (baked, not fried, of course!) for a healthy, seasonal twist. There are many green bean recipes to enjoy throughout the season, but straight off the stalk may just be the best. Enjoy!

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Barnaby Dorfman


Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is the senior editor and featured columnist on EcoSalon and sister site Organic Authority. Jill’s writing has been featured in The Village Voice, MTV, Reality Sandwich and Global Rhythm as well as the anthologies “Towards 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age” (2009, Tarcher/Penguin) and “What Do You Believe?” (2009, Outside the Box). A focus on food policy, veganism, wellness, music and world cultural expressions, Jill blends the mystical and modern as she explores what our shifting food, fashion, culture and creative landscapes will look, sound and taste like in the future. Jill spent more than a decade as a sales and marketing manager in the natural foods industry and regularly consults with and supports emerging brands and organizations in creative communication, social media and event production. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and future foodie, their daughter Imogene. Twitter @jillettinger | www.jillettinger.com.