Spiced Bean Casserole

Beans and, more generally, legumes are fast becoming my favourite source of protein. This is not because I find them more interesting or more flavoursome than meat, but because they are both frugal and rest considerably lighter on one’s stomach. As you will know, meat is a lot harder to digest and I prefer not to have to do it too frequently. Having said that and at the risk of rescinding my own financial and biological high ground, it is rather difficult to opt for legumes over a well-cooked cut of meat – that may be the problem. Perhaps I ought to round out this paragraph by reiterating a point which I frequently make; one needn’t indulge in meat every day of one’s existence.

This casserole is, as you can see, a very simple dish which allows the sumptuous flavour of the beans to shine through. Of course, one could opt to add a little extra spice to the dish and create a bean curry of sorts, but that would perhaps steal the spotlight from the legumes somewhat unfairly. Instead, the cumin and tomatoes after being cooked for an hour or so provide a great body upon which to showcase the beans, this is then finished off nicely with just a hint of fragrance from the coriander… plenty of coriander.

You know, the Olympics aren’t at all conducive to food blogging or life in general. How can one possibly expect to get anything meaningful done when there is myriad different sport to be feasted upon every waking hour of the day? As it happens, this post took an awful lot longer to prepare than it should have; the sole reason for this being Federer’s stunning semi-final against Del Potro. Still, at least Britain are doing rather well, though not as well as the USA – somewhat unsurprisingly. Oh well, I suppose there’s nothing for it but to get clever with my cooking in order to do both at once – this dish, for instance, is both delicious and exceedingly low maintenance. As such, it is well worth an hour or so of anyone’s time in my opinion, humble though it is.

Spiced Bean Casserole

Serves 4


• 100g dried butterbeans

• 100g dried borlotti beans, any other small brown bean would do

• 2 tins of peeled plum tomatoes

• 1 heaped tsp of ground cumin

• 1 onion, finely diced

• 1 red bell pepper, finely sliced

• 1 green bell pepper, finely sliced

• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed

• 2 fresh red chillies

• A whole bunch of fresh coriander

• Salt and pepper

• Olive oil


1. First of all one will need to soak the beans overnight and then boil them alongside the main dish for around an hour. Don’t forget to rinse them before and after cooking.

2. Heat up a generous glug of oil in a large pan and gently fry the cumin before tossing in the onion and cooking for a few minutes. Add the garlic and the peppers and cook for a further 5 minutes. Tip in the tomatoes and the whole chillies. Pop the lid on and cook reasonably gently for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and reduce for the last 15 minutes.

3. Once the beans are soft add them to the pot along with the finely chopped stalks of coriander. Serve with yoghurt and more fresh coriander leaf.

Cost: Let’s face it; beans are extremely inexpensive, particularly if they have been rehydrated. Nothing about this dish strikes me as at all expensive and it shows. The entire pot can be prepared for as little as £1.70. Not an unreasonable price to pay for something so delicious and healthy, I think you’ll agree?


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78 comments on “Spiced Bean Casserole

  1. Sarah
    August 3, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I need to branch out into beans more. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. spree
    August 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Love bean dishes and this looks fantastic Nick. (Like the photo too…warming and satisfying all by itself.)

  3. Arturo Féliz-Camilo
    August 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    You had me at “bean”! LOL!

  4. cookinginsens
    August 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Nice bowl of beans. However, I don’t see anything wrong with indulging in meat every single day of one’s life :)

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks, Rosemary. Well, you wouldn’t, would you? Haha. It can be awfully unhealthy.

  5. countrywoodsmoke
    August 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    What a fabulous vegetarian meal, though I think it would go perfectly with some lovely juicy lamb 😉

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks, Marcus. Haha – less of that. Though everything is better with lamb… not just food either. I’ll take a leg of lamb with my run please.

  6. Jen
    August 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Looks delicious! I have been trying to convince my husband that he doesn’t need to indulge in meat every day, and he is finally starting to come around. Perhaps this will help my case.

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      Thanks, Jen! He totally doesn’t, it’s so unhealthy. I hope he does come round.

  7. budgetcookingblog
    August 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I’m very jealous of you, actually. Chicago was in the running for the 2016 Olympics but lost out to Rio de Janiero. I would love to have the Games here in our own backyard.

    That recipe looks great, by the way!

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      That’s a shame! They aren’t really in my back yard though :D. Rio will be amazing though.

  8. putneyfarm
    August 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Sounds great. But we have to mention that these photos are particularly good. Great color and composition. Well-done…

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks. I’m really trying with my photography – reading books etc…

  9. Laurie
    August 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Looks appetizing! I make something similar using garbanzo beans instead of butter beans and chopped cabbage instead of green bell pepper.

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks, Laurie. That sounds yum, though I’m not the biggest fan of cabbage.

      • Laurie
        August 7, 2012 at 11:55 pm

        In general, I am not a huge cabbage fan either; but it works well in that dish.

  10. erika
    August 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Oh my deliciousness. Well done!

  11. Heather
    August 3, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Beautiful photos and styling!

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Thanks – my photography book is definitely helping a lot.

  12. Cathy
    August 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    This looks really delicious! I shall have to adapt it as I am allergic to peppers, but this has definitely inspired me to use some newly acquired organic cumin! Thanks! 😀

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Thanks! Oh no! What a shame? Chillies too? No probs, Cathy!

  13. Spoon Feast
    August 3, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    These look fantastic to serve with a slice of cornbread and goat cheese. Now I’m hungry.

  14. eatgoodblog
    August 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Nice recipe. What kind of chilly are you using? Are those extremely spicy?

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      Thanks! Um…. I don’t know… we don’t really name them here! Haha.

  15. thedeliciousphilosophy
    August 3, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Love the photos, looks like the perfect comfort meal for fall or winter!

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks! Yes, but it;s actually pretty light too – the coriander helps.

  16. Conor Bofin
    August 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Very nice indeed. Just back from a carnivore fortnight in France. I could do with some of this for a rest. Team GB starting to do good things after a slow start. It is pretty absorbing stuff.

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks, Conor! Yes GB are doing SO well. It’s incredible.

      • Conor Bofin
        August 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm

        I love the way that sporting success begets sporting success and drives interest. You guys are set to have a generation that don’t spend their lives on the couch. A brilliant side effect. Inspiring a generation, as they say.

        • frugalfeeding
          August 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm

          Absolutely! I do hope so! It has certainly inspired me.

  17. The Literate Chef
    August 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Looks and sounds scrumptious. I love beans, beans in soup, beans with pasta, franks and beans and now something new. The Tuscans were known to other Italians as the Mangiafagioli, I could think of worse things to be called.

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks! Beans are amazing… There are many worse things to be called for sure.

  18. Inge
    August 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    It looks so delicious!

  19. Karen
    August 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Your bean casserole looks very good and perfect for a vegetarian meal. I love bean dishes but usually serve them along side a piece of chicken or meat.

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      Thanks! That sounds like a protein overload to me!

  20. Shira
    August 4, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Beautiful! Love butter beans – absolutely LOVE them! I hope you don’t continue to be too distracted, but it’s not that much longer!!

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      Thanks! I know… it’s very difficult though… I love sport.

  21. emmycooks
    August 4, 2012 at 6:14 am

    These look delicious! Also, beans are so low-maintainence that you can mostly focus on the tv while preparing them. :)

  22. Stephanie
    August 4, 2012 at 7:10 am

    This looks fabulous… I need to eat more beans! I watched the (long) end of that tennis match too… amazing!

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks! You should! I have lots of recipes for them. It was amazing – I had to go to work though.

  23. my sleepy kitchen
    August 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    My mum hates beans, so I didn’t eat them very often growing up – hence I have no natural inclinations about how to cook and flavour them! This recipe sounds amazing, and should help me get over my bean-cooking-nervousness. Plus, fresh coriander is good for those of us with heavy metal poisoning, as it is an amazing chelator – so it’s always great to find new recipe that require loads of it!

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      Oh no! Well I have LOADS of bean recipes here 😀

  24. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    August 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I love that pepper on top. Better than a cherry. I mean figuratively, not in this recipe, because of course it wouldn’t go in this recipe.:)

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      Yes, it seemed like a good idea to perch it up there. It would not 😀

  25. Jessie
    August 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Beans simmered with vegetables are an all-time favorite comfort food. Looks great!

  26. Somer
    August 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    That looks totally stinking delicious! I love your ramblings about meat. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more people lived like you? :)

    I love beans as a protein source and they are cheap and versatile enough to eat nearly every day.

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      Haha, thanks, Somer! I don;t know why your comments have started going to be approved… Sorry. Everyone should live like me haha!

      • Somer
        August 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm

        You’re welcome!

        Oh, the moderation thing is because I got a weird blog stalker that started emailing me at my personal email address, so I changed the email address associated with my wordpress account and blocked the dude from my personal account. I’m not on facebook or any of the social networking sites. Too many creeps out there.

        • frugalfeeding
          August 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm

          Oh that’s so weird! I hope I don’t pick up a creep or a stalker… haha 😀 Sorry to hear about that.

          • Somer
            August 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm

            I’m pretty sure you won’t have an issue! It was so weird and definitely made me lost my appetite for blogging for a bit. I was still doing my assigned post days, but didn’t feel like responding to comments or checking out anyone else’s stuff. The luster is back and I’m on my game!

          • frugalfeeding
            August 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

            I don’t think so :D. I am glad, Somer! Don’t let it affect you.

          • Somer
            August 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm

            Thanks! I’m totally over it!

          • frugalfeeding
            August 7, 2012 at 9:48 pm

            That’s the best way!

  27. Michelle
    August 5, 2012 at 1:21 am

    Those are some fine looking beans.

  28. Jenny
    August 5, 2012 at 6:01 am

    This looks so delicious and hearty. Yum!

  29. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen
    August 5, 2012 at 7:05 am

    I’m watching the Olympics as we speak.. er, write.. as I write. I know I should be cheering for Canada, I do try to be patriotic. But I get attached to athletes as “individuals”, no matter what the country.. so it can get a touch confusing around here as I cheer madly for someone I think worthy of a Gold.. simply because of their life story! I would cheer madly for these beans.. butter beans and borlotti beans.. because they begin with B and because I’m sure the flavor would be outstanding… Nick.. (being dangerous here) 😀

    • frugalfeeding
      August 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      Haha, me too – I love Federer, for instance. Good luck Canada :D. Thanks, Barb. It was yummy 😀

  30. It's only P!
    September 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Select month or Select category lead me to facebook? I was hoping for a quicker way to pick something from a category…

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 11:06 am

      That’s all fixed now… The two widgets were clashing for some reason…

  31. Sanjukta Moorthy
    September 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Looks great, this would be good with your flatbreads too! Is that how you ate it? I’m a bit loathe to try bean casseroles with rice, which I find a bit too hackneyed!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      Yes, that’s a great idea! Oh no, it really doesn’t need rice.

      • Sanjukta Moorthy
        September 28, 2012 at 7:42 am

        This would be amazing with some sour cream and those flatbreads actually. Hmmm, I’m getting inspiration for next week’s work lunches! *fingers stroke fake beard*

        • frugalfeeding
          October 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm

          Oh yes, they would be… I’m glad you didn’t say real beard…

  32. creativelyhungry
    September 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    This looks delicious! I cannot wait to make this, thanks for the recipe!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks! you’ll love it, I’m sure. One of my favourite recipes.

  33. Mark
    November 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Great site and a great recipe, it was delicious. I made mine using a pressure cooker which saves so much time and cooking costs.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 1, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Thanks! I loathe pressure cookers :D. My cooking costs are basically nothing – my energy bill for a year (including heating) is around £240… split between two people… very frugal… 😀

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