Coconut Milk Is The Best Creamy Addition For Humble Pantry Beans

bowl of lentils with coconut milk and grilled bread
bowl of lentils with coconut milk and grilled bread - Kiian Oksana/Shutterstock

Beans are a global staple and the foundation of countless recipes including stews, salads, casseroles, dips, and even dessert fillings. They encompass numerous varieties, providing a comforting texture and versatile flavor to pair with a broad spectrum of seasonings.

Spices, aromatics, and broths might be the first ingredients that come to mind when elaborating beans, but coconut milk is the best creamy addition to transform this humble pantry staple into a rich, flavorful, and complex dish. Coconut milk is a staple itself, providing the foundation for sauces and stews in every tropical region around the world.

As a canned product, coconut milk is widely available, reasonably priced, and has a long shelf life. It's also a cholesterol-free source of fat and a common vegan substitute for dairy cream used to thicken and intensify sweet and savory recipes with a nutty, creamy, and subtly sweet flavor. Its high fat content is the source of its richness and receptiveness to bold flavors from aromatics, spices, and chilies.

Coconut milk will add depth of flavor and an even creamier texture to any type of bean, from lentils to kidney beans. You can use coconut milk as a cooking liquid for dried beans, a thickener for bean stews and soups, or as a finishing touch to neutralize overly spicy or salty beans.

Read more: 15 Tangy Ingredients That Will Elevate Homemade Baked Goods

How To Incorporate Coconut Milk Into Beans

pouring coconut milk into pot of beans
pouring coconut milk into pot of beans - Marc Dufresne/Getty Images

As a tropical staple, you'll see coconut milk incorporated into numerous recipes using various techniques. Many savory recipes pour it over a fragrant mixture of spices and aromatic vegetables and roots to create a foundational sauce to receive cooked protein and vegetables. Others use a blend of coconut milk and broth or water to cook dried grains and legumes. Still others, stir half a can of coconut milk into a boiling pot of soup or stew to thicken it and meld all its flavors together.

You can use any of these methods for beans. The most obvious use of coconut milk and beans is the famous red or yellow lentil dish known as dal which fries ginger, garlic, and onions with curry powder, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and cinnamon before adding crushed tomatoes, broth, and coconut milk to create a rich cooking broth for the lentils.

Caribbean and West African culinary traditions also use a mixture of broth and coconut milk as cooking liquid for dried rice and kidney beans in a pilaf-style dish that starts with a foundation of fried aromatics and peppers. You can pour coconut milk into a simmering pot of spicy black bean soup to thicken and counter the acidity and mellow the heat from chilies. It would also taste great as a vegan cream substitute in Tuscan white bean soup. A squeeze of citrus and chopped fresh herbs will enhance and complement coconut milk's richness in any recipe.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.