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The Bean Book
cookbook reviewsthe bean bookl
The Bean Book : Over 70 Recipes Using Beans and Other Pulses
List Price: $22.95
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Reviewed by Audrey Kasindorf

Click Here to Buy It On Line!
July 2002

I've always loved to cook with beans, They are nutritional, inexpensive and delicious. I don't think the average person recognizes how versatile beans can be. There are so many different varieties of beans, and so many creative ways to prepare them. The Bean Book demonstrates that beans are more than just a side dish or a filler. In The Bean Book, beans are the main attraction in everything from soups and appetizers to salads and main courses.

The book starts off with a brief history on beans and describes the nutritional and health value, and then goes on to describe all the major beans and offers tips on preparation and cooking. The chapters are divided by categories starting with soups and appetizers, vegetarian entrees, meat entrees, salads and lastly, ' more than beans' which showcases recipes for chick peas, lentils and and split peas.

The recipes range from classic bean favorites such as speedy mixed baked beans and split pea soup to all sorts of international dishes such as baked bean cassoulet, chile con carne, fava bean lemon and parmesan risotto, minestrone soup and North African fish stew with couscous. Most of the recipes are accompanied by striking, artistic photos which really capture the essence of the dish.

About half of the recipes call for canned beans which at first turned me off, but I realized that this book is geared toward home cooks who want simple recipes that are also creative. The recipes are really easy to follow, on the top of the page of each recipe it lists the preparation time and the cooking time. recipes such as penne with artichoke pesto, black bean and cabbage stew, red beans with coconut and cashews and red pepper and bean cake with lemon mayonnaise only take 1/2 hour to prepare and cook. Canned beans are a smart alternative when time is an issue. Yet there are some slightly more complex recipes such as the lamb, navy bean and endive casserole with a bread crumb topping. This recipe calls for 30 minutes of prep time plus overnight soaking of the beans, and two and a half hours of cooking time. The only recipe in the book which has a preparation time of more than 30 minutes is the chickpea, spinach and pumpkin stew with tomato and chile aioli. This had a prep time of only 35 minutes. The average recipe in the Bean book has a prep time of 15 minutes. The chile con carne entree has a prep time of only 5 minutes. You can't beat that if you are a cook on the go, yet still want a healthy and satisfying meal.

The bean book is a nice addition to anyone's cookbook collection. The recipes are innovative, yet not intimidating to anyone. If you already have a passion for beans you will enjoy the fun recipes and exquisite photos. For those of you who have always thought of beans as a simple side dish, The Bean Book will be a real eye opener.

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