Transforming a Single Cooked Butter Beans Batch into Four Delectable Recipes.

Butter beans are undoubtedly the thrifty cook's closest companion when it comes to achieving maximum satisfaction and nourishment with minimal expenditure. For a price that is less than that of this newspaper, you can purchase enough dried beans to create all the recipes featured here. And preparing them from scratch is just as effortless as opening ten cans of beans - the equivalent of 1kg of dried beans!

Preparing your batch of butter beans

For all four recipes, you will require approximately 850g of dried butter beans. The most optimal method of cooking butter beans involves simmering them gently in a slow cooker. I have found that cooking them directly from their dry state, without soaking them beforehand, helps maintain their texture and prevents them from becoming mushy. Simply pour them into the pot, add ample water to cover them, a teaspoon of salt, and cook until they are tender. This process should take about six to eight hours. Begin checking them after five hours, and then check them every half an hour or so until they are done. Ideally, you would need a 6-litre slow cooker for a batch of this size, but it is also possible to prepare two smaller batches instead.

If you do not own a slow cooker, you can soak the dried beans in an ample amount of cold water for a minimum of eight hours or overnight.

After soaking, rinse the beans thoroughly and transfer them to a large and sturdy saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover them by at least 10cm. Bring the saucepan to a near-boiling point and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Allow the beans to cook until they reach a tender consistency, which should take approximately one hour, depending on the age of your beans.

Once the beans have finished cooking, stir in a pinch of salt into the cooking liquid. Allow the beans to cool, then drain them, cover them, and store them in the refrigerator. I find it convenient to portion out the cooked beans into 500g servings, ready to be utilized whenever needed. They also freeze extremely well, should you desire to extend their shelf life.

The zesty evening meal: Aromatic curry with butter beans (pictured above)

This dish pairs perfectly with fluffy, white basmati rice, creating a protein-packed combination of beans and grains. To add an Indian twist, serve it with a raw chutney made from chopped tomatoes, onions, and coriander.

I must confess that I also enjoy adding some sweet and sticky store-bought mango chutney, along with crispy poppadums. I prefer to purchase the dry poppadums and quickly cook them in a frying pan, pressing them down with a fish slice in a small amount of hot oil. It is quite entertaining to witness their immediate expansion and fluffiness, and their crispiness complements the soft and mealy texture of the butter beans.

Serves 4

4 tablespoons of olive oil

2 chopped onions

400g of chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons of black mustard seeds

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

2 crushed garlic cloves

1 tablespoon of grated raw ginger

1-2 teaspoons of chili powder (adjust to taste)

2 teaspoons of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of turmeric

½ teaspoon of asafeotida

2 x 500g of cooked butter beans

300ml of water


Chopped fresh coriander

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onions for about 10 minutes until they become soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking for another 10 minutes until they have softened as well.

2. In another small saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the black mustard and cumin seeds and stir them for a few seconds until they start to sizzle and jump. Then, add the crushed garlic, grated ginger, chili powder, ground coriander, turmeric, and asafoetida. Stir the mixture over the heat for 2-3 minutes, and then add it to the large pan with the onion and tomato mixture.

By following these preparation steps, you can unlock the true potential of butter beans and explore various flavorful recipes that will tantalize your taste buds. Enjoy the adventure and embrace the versatility of this humble yet remarkable ingredient!

Leek, butter-bean and parsley soup: just two main ingredients and a cooking time of less than 30 minutes.

3 Incorporate the cooked butter beans into the pan along with the water, then cook over a gentle heat until steaming hot. Season with salt according to your taste, then garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander before serving.

2 The comforting broth: Consommé of leek, butter bean, and parsley

Prepare for a soup so effortlessly made, with only two primary ingredients and a cooking duration of under 30 minutes. This delightful concoction is reminiscent of a refreshing sip of mint tea, soothing and invigorating simultaneously. Give it a try and experience it for yourself.

I highly recommend utilizing Marigold bouillon powder as it adds a marvelous touch to the dish, removing the need for additional salt. However, if you desire a little something extra, opt for a serving of delectable garlic bread.

Serves 4. Photograph: Tamin Jones/The GuardianServes 41 tablespoon of olive oil500 grams of tender leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced500 grams of pre-cooked butter beans1.5 liters of water2 tablespoons of Marigold bouillon powder

A small handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1 Begin by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the leeks, stir, then cover and cook gently for 5-10 minutes.

2 Introduce the beans and water to the pan, then bring the mixture to a boil.

3 Sprinkle the bouillon powder over the surface of the soup, ensuring it is evenly distributed. Allow it to simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until the leeks have softened.

Butter bean, herb and caper paté – just as good as hummus.

4 Include the fresh parsley, then lightly blend the soup with a hand blender, aiming for slight thickness with visible pieces of bean and leek.

5 Season to taste and serve.

3 The creamy spread: Butter bean, herb, and caper pâté

Butter beans have the ability to create an exceptionally smooth and creamy dip that can rival the beloved hummus. While enjoyable on its own with a drizzle of olive oil and black olives, adding a variety of herbs and capers will give it a tangy twist. Perfect as an appetizer, snack, or addition to your lunchbox.

Butter bean, herb, and caper pâté – a hummus contender. Photograph: Tamin Jones/The GuardianServes 4500 grams of pre-cooked butter beans1 crushed garlic cloveJuice of half a lemon1 tablespoon of olive oilA dash of tabasco sauce1 tablespoon of chopped chives

1 tablespoon of chopped dill1 tablespoon of small capers, rinsed and drainedSalt and black pepper

Spring onions, radishes, chicory slices, fennel, and celery pieces, a selection of favorite olives, and toasted strips of pita bread for serving

1 Combine the beans, garlic, lemon juice, and oil in a food processor. Whizz until reaching a creamy texture, adding a small amount of water to achieve a lightly whipped cream consistency if necessary.

4 A Delightful Warm Salad: Roasted Veggies and Butter Beans with Feta

Indulge in outstanding satisfaction with minimal exertion. If you prefer a vegan option, substitute generous teaspoons of dairy-free cheese for the feta. And for either variation, you can elevate the dish with a sprinkling of pine nuts.

Roasted veg with butter beans and feta: lots of goodness, little effort.

Photograph: Tamin Jones/The GuardianServes 4


- 2 red peppers, remove seeds and slice

- 2 yellow peppers, remove seeds and slice

- 2 red onions, slice

- 2 medium courgettes, chop into chunks

- 4 tbsp olive oil

- 500g cooked butter beans

- 400g cherry tomatoes

- Balsamic vinegar

- 200g feta cheese, roughly cubed

Optional: A handful of pine nuts

To Serve: Rocket salad, or an assorted mix of baby leaf salad with some rocket. Season with salt and black pepper.


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

2. Place all the prepared vegetables into a generous roasting tin, pour in the olive oil, and delicately toss to evenly coat the vegetables.

3. Roast for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Then, give them a gentle stir and add the butter beans, whole cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, feta cheese, pine nuts (if desired), and season to taste.

4. Place the vegetables back in the oven for approximately 10 minutes.

5. Serve the dish with the salad leaves arranged on top.

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