It may be a great question to ask the friend you haven’t seen in 8 years (you’ve gotten fat), but in a professional kitchen it’s a valid question for how you’re serving your customer base. In the continual quest for the next great super food (where you at acai?), it’s easy to forget most of us have one of the world’s best already sitting on our shelves!
One of the challenges I faced in becoming the chef at Furmano’s was figuring out what to do with beans. I’d used them in soups. I’d tossed them in a vinaigrette. I’d tossed them with pasta. The reality was that if I didn’t figure out something fun to do with them, I’d be out of a job.
Although there are so many health benefits provided by beans, it’s still tough to get them into the bellies of people who don’t like them. I understand completely. As a child, I was awful to feed (sorry Mom and Dad). One of my father’s favorite stories… When, at a family reunion, I made a complete production in front of everyone, absolutely refusing to eat the baked beans they put on my plate. Of course my dad got a big kick out of me getting this job (do parents have to be right about everything... I’m still glad I didn’t listen).
What I’ve found, is that beans are more versatile than I ever imagined (don’t tell the people I work for that I had no idea what I was doing when they hired me). Yes, beans are excellent in their traditional uses, but then we’re limited to the customers that choose to eat them. With such a low price point per serving (about $.03 per ounce, depending on the bean), anywhere we can work them into a meal is money in your pockets! We also see more and more government regulations that require nutritional information to be available for your menu. You’ll will certainly see an uptick on the nutritional panel as you infuse protein, fiber, and iron into your items with beans.
Our website has lots of great recipes using beans in “non-traditional” ways. I find pureed beans to be especially versatile. They make great emulsifiers and add an incredible creaminess to the mouth feel of the products you make. I’ve used them as simply an additive to a traditional recipe, or to replace functional ingredients like eggs or other thickeners. So take a chance, try using your beans a little differently and see what happens!