Sunday, November 15, 2020

Easy Beans: Simple, Satisfying Recipes That Are Good for You, Your Wallet, and the Planet

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Easy Beans is a is a tutorial guide and cookbook with recipes developed by Jackie Freeman. Released 3rd Nov 2020 by Sasquatch Books, it's 176 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is a useful, basic, comprehensive, and wonderfully versatile recipe collection. Beans as a source of protein and bulk food component have been known and used in one form or another since ancient times virtually the world over. This is a nice sampling of different legumes in recipes from a wide variety of culinary styles. 

The introduction (~15%) covers some of the history and "why/how to use beans" background info. There's also a really good tutorial for cooking and processing beans to get the best results and avoid mushy or uneven cooking. 

The following chapters contain the recipes grouped roughly thematically: breakfasts, snacks, soups & stews (wonderful and classic recipes here), sides & salads, and main dishes. There are a huge number of recipes. Many were familiar to me, but even those had a twist which lifted them beyond the traditional: dried cherries in pilaf, squash and black-eyed peas in samosas, etc. I was surprised at the omission of pasta e fagioli soup, but there are enough other recipes to keep cooks happy here.

The recipes themselves are formatted with an introduction and background, ingredients listed bullet style in a sidebar (US standard measures only, no metric equivalents), and step by step ingredients. Alternative presentations, tips, and special definitions are provided in highlighted text bars at the end of the instructions. Nutritional info is not included. Many of the recipes are vegetarian friendly with an emphasis on plant based ingredients, but not all. The vegetarian/vegan friendly recipes are not specified or marked out. I would say that nearly all the recipes in the book can easily be adapted to be vegan friendly if desired.

Most of the ingredients are easily sourced at any moderately well stocked grocery store. Some few ingredients might be more easily found at a health food or international food grocery, but there's nothing that will be very difficult to find.

One of the standouts of this collection is the photography. The food is beautifully styled, clearly photographed, and serving suggestions are attractive and appropriate. Roughly half the recipes have pictures.

The appendices include a cross-referenced index, metric conversion chart, short author bio, and a really nice (non-photographed) "bean-cyclopedia" showing many different legumes with cooking methods, whether the pressure cooker is appropriate, and other info. 

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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