#TheDurhamPantry: Beans Galore!

This week we are full of beans, not just because Loveshack seems to be returning to normality, but because we have finally found the Holy Grail of student cooking. Although they may not appear to be the sexiest item in your shopping basket, tinned beans are full of hidden wonders and we love them for a number of reasons. Not only are they highly nutritious and full of protein, but are also ridiculously easy to cook with and (best of all) are as cheap as chips in your local shop – hurrah!

Borlotti beans

We’ve tried this autumnal, warming stew on numerous occasions, each time experimenting with slightly different ingredients. On the bean front, the original recipe from The London Pantry tastes delicious and looks impressive with beautifully speckled borlotti beans. However, we also discovered that red kidney beans added a dark and meaty tone, whilst frozen broad beans added a very refreshing flavour and a lovely green colour. For a spicy kick, adding paprika or chilli powder gives an extra depth to the beans. The recipe also works well with chickpeas, so go wild and hunt out your favourite legume on North Road.

In order to really blend all the yummy flavours in your pan, adding a final touch of cheese at the end is essential (unless you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant!). If you’re willing to splash out a little, we found that goat’s cheese gives a very luxurious texture and a creamy taste. That said, swirling a few of dollops of Tesco’s own cottage cheese is a cheaper alternative, offering a lighter finish. If you’re looking for even more protein (think of those gains…), cracking a couple of eggs into the pan right before grilling instantly transforms this dish into a truly wholesome, hearty meal. The eggs are entirely optional—in our kitchen Helena loves the extra health kick, whereas Georgie prefers to leave her eggs at breakfast!

Borlotti Bean Stew

Ingredients: (Serves 3 – depending on hangover intensity or post-library hunger)

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 75g of purple kale, trimmed off the stalk and shredded
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 eggs (optional) – free-range if you can!
  • 4 tablespoons of goat’s cheese
  • 20g of Parmesan, grated


  • Preheat your grill to high
  • Heat pan over a medium heat with the olive oil and add the red onions, garlic and a pinch of salt
  • Sweat for 10 minutes
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, borlotti beans and balsamic vinegar, and simmer for a further 5 minutes
  • Check the seasoning, add the kale and stir through (make sure you don’t cover all the kale up with the saucy beans as the stray bits turn into delicious kale crisps, providing another delicious texture!)
  • (Optional) If you’re using eggs, crack them on top and gently stir in a bit of the white
  • Top with dollops of goat’s cheese and scatter the grated parmesan over it
  • Grill for approx. 5–7 minutes to crisp up the kale, cook the eggs through and brown the cheese

Serving suggestion: A good crusty bread roll to mop up the juices – Tesco’s sourdough made a great companion!

Other ways to glorify tinned beans…

We seriously don’t know anyone who doesn’t like hummus. It’s the perfect snack for all times of the day and although it’s associated with the famous chickpea, you can experiment with whatever is in your cupboard! So here’s our very own failsafe recipe. Quantities of all ingredients can be varied, depending on personal preference. It keeps really well in the fridge for up to a week – ideal for transporting to and from the BillyB!


Ingredients: (For a big bowl)

  • 2 x 400g cans of chickpeas
  • 4 teaspoons of tahini (peanut butter also works well)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons of quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3½ tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice


  • Blitz everything together in a food processor until smooth and enjoy!

More beans? How about taking a culinary hand to the favourite student meal of all time and make your own baked beans—it’s certainly more delicious and healthy, and keeps for up to a week in the fridge to satisfy those cravings. Again using tinned beans is great, but The Guardian suggests that dried beans work even better and are much cheaper if you have the time (and effort).

Homemade Baked Beans


  • 3 tablespoons of fine salt
  • 450g of dried haricot beans
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 400g of tinned tomatoes, chopped
  • 2½ tablespoons of tomato ketchup
  • 1½ teaspoons of cornflour


  • Add the beans to 3.5 litres of water with the salt and leave to soak for at least 8 hours, then drain and rinse
  • Put in a large pan and cover with fresh water
  • Bring to the boil, skim off the scum that rises to the top, then turn down the heat and simmer until just tender (but not falling apart!)
  • Meanwhile, make the sauce!
  • Heat the oil in a medium pan over a moderate heat, add garlic and fry briefly, stirring, until fragrant
  • Add the carrot and celery, turn down the heat and cook until well softened – for approx. 20–25 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes and ketchup and stir together
  • Season well and simmer for 10 minutes, then puree until smooth
  • Mix the cornflour with a little water to form a paste, then whisk into the pan and add approx. 300ml of water
  • Season to taste, add the beans and simmer for 15 minutes

So get cracking and become a truly certified bean lover!

P.S. Follow @TheBubble_Food on Instagram for your dose of all things good & yummy!

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