Easily Elevate Canned Beans With A Marinade

A reliable staple of the pantry, a can of beans promises protein and convenience to the harried cook. The only thing still needed is a shot of flavor, taking this quick dinner from the mild to the wild. But infusing canned beans with flavor can take time and energy that some people just don't have. Luckily, there is a fast and flavorful way to wring the most out of that eponymous can of beans: soak the beans in a marinade.

What makes a good marinade in this case? Think of something like a silky and tangy vinaigrette, where high-quality olive oil blends with bright vinegar to create the perfect base for your beans. You can easily add herbs and other fresh aromatics to this lovely mix — plus some fun textures, like crunchy celery and bell pepper, and creamy avocado. With the marinade as your cohesive sauce, you can quickly create a bean dish that utilizes most of your fresh veggies and only gets more flavorful over time.

A saucy update that makes for great leftovers

Making a tasty marinade recipe at home doesn't have to be complicated — let's start with the bean selection. While any can of beans will work, creamier varieties like cannellini, navy, and chickpeas work particularly well. Once you've selected your can of beans, you'll thoroughly drain and rinse them before assembling the marinade. 

For the marinade itself, begin with about 1/3 cup of olive oil for every 2 (15-ounce) cans of beans. From there, slowly heat your olive oil on the stovetop, adding in an assortment of spices or aromatics that can benefit from being toasted. Try incorporating spices like coriander seeds or ground cumin (either whole or ground), which will be enhanced by blooming in the hot oil. Then, you can remove this infused oil from the heat and stir in all the other goodies — grated garlic, lemon zest, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, chopped fresh herbs, hot sauce, honey, or lemon juice would all be welcome additions. 

You can immediately toss your beans with this marinade and call it a day, or you can add more killer additions to the mix, like chopped celery, a handful of pickled jalapeños, or some salty crumbled queso fresco. Whatever you incorporate, remember that this bean salad will only get more flavorful as it rests in the fridge, making it peak leftover food.