Small but mighty, beans are one of the most versatile foods around. Around the world, millions of smallholder farmers grow beans to feed their families and make a living. Prized for their high protein, nutrients and fiber content, beans are helping families reduce child malnutrition and stunting in many developing countries, especially when other foods are scarce. Beans are also good for soil, helping farmers reduce their costs since they can keep their fields fertile and healthy without using a lot of expensive fertilizers.
From investing in research to working directly with farmers and mothers in rural areas, Feed the Future is helping rural families improve the production of beans and learn about beans’ benefits. By teaming up with U.S. universities, we’re helping farming families combat challenges such as those imposed by climate change, pests, and plant diseases to keep beans on the table.
This fall, we invited you to help us spread the word about agriculture's potential to reduce hunger, poverty, and malnutrition by sending us your favorite bean recipes, and you responded in force. We received dozens of entries from across the United States and abroad!
Your level of creativity was impressive. The recipes featured many types of beans -- all versatile in their own ways. The votes are in, and the winners are listed below. If you’re looking for a bean recipe for your dinner table, we encourage you to try one (or all!) of these winning recipes.
Thanks to everyone who participated, from sharing the contest with friends and followers to sending in recipes. You can still help share the word this fall that we can make an impact against hunger, poverty and malnutrition.
Prepare one of the winning recipes and post a picture of your creation on Twitter or Facebook. Add the hashtag #feedthefuture to make sure we see it!
Work in a restaurant? Feature one of these delicious recipes on your December or 2017 menu with a short note about the food producers who make the ingredients possible.
Share these social media infographics with facts about beans and the efforts that are helping poor families grow a better future.
And the winners are...
Best Overall Recipes:
Best Sweet Recipe:
Best Savory Recipe:
Most Creative Recipe:
Submitted by: Sayora Khalimova (Tajikistan)
Khalimova works with people who receive Feed the Future support in Tajikistan. The recipes below are “from our Feed the Future beneficiaries who, through the support of Feed the Future and USAID, published a cookbook to provide parents with healthy and nutritious recipes for their children,” she wrote.
Ingredients for Red Bean Burger (Kotlet)
2 lb. red beans (or two 15 oz. cans)
2 boiled eggs
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
Iodized salt, to taste
2 cups of vegetable oil, divided
Ingredients for Red Bean and Beet Salad
1 pound red beans (or one 15 oz. can)
½ pound red beets
¼ pound carrots
1 pound potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
¼ pound dill pickles
1 pound sauerkraut
⅛ cup vegetable oil
Iodized salt to taste
Freshly chopped green onions and cilantro to taste
Submitted by: Trevor Bidstrup (Carnation, Washington)
Bidstrup, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, wrote, “This dish was inspired by a local ‘n yimba ndiwo’ (bean relish) made in Malawi, which is the most common way of preparing beans in my area. To make the local version, people just boil the beans and then add tomatoes. I wanted to encourage the use of beans in my community as a valuable source of protein and other nutrients, so I began experimenting with new recipes to get people excited about eating beans, since beans are typically seen as a poor substitute for animal meat. What I came up with was a Mexican/Malawian fusion that was inspired from my time in Malawi and my restaurant experience back in America.”
1 cup dry beans (kidney or cannellini work well, but almost any variety can be used)
1 cup diced orange-fleshed sweet potato
1 medium onion
5 cloves of garlic (depending on size)
2 medium tomatoes
Submitted by: Carol Elwin (Fintrac, Honduras)
“I like this recipe because it’s a bit different from many traditional Honduran recipes in that it uses soybeans in addition to black beans, adding more protein and nutritional value. The chili and extra veggies rounds out the flavor profile and is a crowd-pleaser!”
½ cup soybean gazpacho
2 cups cooked black beans
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ onion, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon chili
Salt and spices to taste
Submitted by: Magdalena Escudero (Barcelona, Spain)
“2016 is the International Year of Pulses, and I am excited that Feed the Future has chosen to spotlight beans in its recipe contest this year. This pumpkin pie recipe incorporates white beans and typifies many of the innovative recipes with which we promote the use of pulses as a functional, nutrition-boosting ingredient in breads, soups, smoothies and even desserts.
The combination of pulses and cereals, beans and rice in this recipe is a perfect way to assure the consumption of high-quality protein from purely vegetable sources. Pulses are rich in the amino acid lysine and low in methionine while cereals have high methionine and low lysine content.”
Ingredients for rice pudding
1 ½ cups whole milk
⅓ cup short- or medium-grain white rice
¼ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch of salt
Ingredients for pumpkin pie
1 cup navy or great northern beans, cooked
1 ½ cups pumpkin, cooked and drained
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon salt
Can be served with heavy whipped cream.
* According to the author, this dish is appropriate for those with celiac disease.
Submitted by: Kira Barwich (WorldFish Center, Cambodia)
“Samlor kako, literally translated as stirring soup, is a classic Cambodian dish. It is considered a nutritious and healthy one-pot dish made with small fish and vegetables and it is promoted in the food-insecure Tonle Sap region in central Cambodia to encourage more women and children, in the first 1,000 days of life, to eat more fish and beans. Made thick, this dish can be mashed and fed as a complementary food to young children, starting at 6 months of age.”
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lb. small fish, scaled, washed and cooked whole*
1 tablespoon prahok (Khmer fish paste)
2 tablespoons tik trei (iron-fortified fish sauce)
2 teaspoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
1 teaspoon iodized salt (or to taste)
4 tablespoons ground toasted rice
5 cups water (or fish stock for flavor)
3 tablespoons green kroeung, a spice paste (see below for recipe)
1 pumpkin wedge (about 7 oz.), peeled, seeds removed, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 green papaya wedge (about 7 oz.), peeled, washed, seeds removed and shredded
2 handfuls long beans or French beans (about 7 oz.), cut lengthwise into 1 inch pieces
2 green bananas (or 1 green plantain), washed then peeled and shredded
½ cup trob put-nhorng (pea eggplant), stalks removed, washed and slightly crushed just before using
1 small eggplant, washed, trimmed, quartered and cut diagonally into slices ½ inch thick
2 big handfuls sleuk ma-raeh (bitter melon leaves) or spinach leaves
*Mekong flying barb, yellow tail rasbora, slender rasbora or any small, firm-fleshed fish may be used.
Green Kroeung can be made by mixing and grinding the following ingredients into a paste.
3 tablespoons lemon grass leaves, very thinly sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves or zest of ¼ kaffir lime
1 tablespoon peeled and chopped turmeric roots
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
4 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon iodized salt
Submitted by: Bruno Benavides (Baltimore, Maryland)
“This is a dessert originally prepared by the large Afro-Peruvian community. This recipe is very special to me – it sends me back to my childhood when I used to go with my parents to Pisco, my mom’s hometown 200 miles south of Lima. I can clearly remember the street vendors at the bus station offering ‘frijol colado’ in small containers made with dried pumpkins. My dad used to buy them so he can bring it home and share it with the family. It was always difficult to resist the delicate taste of cloves. By the time we were back to Lima, the containers made with dried pumpkins would be empty.
The original recipe was made with molasses and much more sugar than the one I shared. I modified it to avoid the use of excessive amounts of sugar.”
1 lb. raw black beans or 15.5 oz. can of cooked black beans
2 ⅓ cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
2 cups evaporated milk
2 cups water