Beans on Toast Is the Secret to Converting Legume Haters

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Parents love to share war stories of the obviously delicious things their children refuse to eat (such as freshly baked apple pie in a flaky buttery crust, in my three-year-old daughter’s case). Then there are the foods they ask for (a “shandwich” the same child requested for lunch) only to flat-out decline moments later (“I no like shandwiches”). We joke about how impossible it is that we could create a human being who doesn’t like hot dogs or tater tots, but I would like for the sake of this story to boldly go where I don’t think enough essays about feeding kids have gone before: I want to own my children’s pickiness.

Guys, I was a picky eater as a kid. I didn’t like meat. I didn’t like cooked green vegetables. I didn’t like eggs. I didn’t understand the purpose of cheese on things that weren’t, say, pizza. I’ve come around to all of those and then some; for me, learning to cook things the way I wanted really helped, but mostly I just grew out of it. Perhaps my kids will too.

Of course, the idea that they might one day love the dinner they’re currently despondent over is little consolation when I’m wiped out on a Tuesday night. We all need a simple, efficient meal but have different ideas about what constitutes one.

Before I had kids, I often turned canned beans into dinner by tossing them with pasta, making a quick soup or salad, or schmearing them on toast with a fried egg. I could still turn them into almost anything… if my kids would let me. But like their picky mom before them, they haven’t taken to beans outside of chili, and even then, hesitantly. We even ended up taking them out of the mix entirely for a while.

The biggest breakthrough we’ve had in bean consumption was when I began treating them like pasta. A couple of years ago, I made a baked ziti–like dish in which I used jumbo white beans instead of pasta, cook- ing them in a vegetable-flecked marinara sauce, top- ping with mozzarella and Parmesan, and broiling until brown and bubbly. The kids were skeptical until I called them “pizza beans”—and lo, somehow this was the trick that finally got them to eat legumes for dinner.

picky eaters club beans

Illustration by Giacomo Gambineri

But for nights when we’re short on time, I like to take the best parts of the pizza beans—white beans, tomato sauce, greens, and garlic—and give them a speedier English-style beans-on-toast treatment.

A friend from the UK introduced me to this dorm-friendly delight in college. The “recipe”: Warm a can of baked beans and ladle over buttered toast. If you’re feeling extra, you can finish it with cheese.

For this weeknight-friendly toast, I make a one-skillet ragù with crumbled sausage, wilted greens, lots of garlic, as many red pepper flakes as we can pull off, and then canned white beans where we might other- wise add pasta. For the toast, I use slices of buttery garlic bread (the ultimate kid bait), and we finish it with Parmesan (because we are always feeling extra). It’s a bit more elaborate than the version I learned in college—it takes 25 minutes, not five—but it’s also a more rounded meal. It’s become such a hit that it’s gone into our permanent rotation—and I get to check another ingredient off the Never Feed Us This list. I call that a triumph.

Get the recipe:

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This Crispy Tofu Will Convert Even Hardcore Tofu Haters

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Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.

In theory, working at a food magazine should mean that my fridge is always fully stocked with peak-season produce and every night is a parade of beautiful, thoughtful meals. In reality, making dinner most nights feels like an off-brand version of Chopped in which I spend a lot of time gazing into my fridge, then just end up throwing a bunch of things in a bowl. But even on the darkest fridge days (a.k.a. rent week), I can rely on this crispy tofu to come through.

Stop! If you’re an avowed tofu hater, don’t you dare close this tab. This recipe will turn you—I’ve seen it before. I’ll admit that, in the wrong hands, tofu can be bland and stodgy. But this tofu is crispy and chewy, with a custard-y interior and hugely flavorful maple-soy glaze. What’s not to love?

A Healthyish, Chile-Fried Egg Take on Breakfast Tacos

I would be embarrassed about how often I’ve made this recipe since it debuted on Healthyish last February, but senior food editor Chris Morocco is a genius so I have no shame. It’s been in heavy rotation for months because all of the key ingredients—maple syrup, soy sauce, rice vinegar, tofu—are pantry staples for me. If tofu hasn’t earned a permanent place on your grocery list, this recipe offers a compelling reason. It’s affordable, keeps unopened in the fridge for weeks, and becomes crispy and delicious under that maple-soy glaze. And, like Rihanna, it will bless anything it touches.

About that glaze: It’s not as scary as you think. It’s a simple mix of ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and mild chile flakes, which bastes crispy browned tofu until reduced in a sticky, delicious sauce. It delivers takeout-joint level satisfaction, but can be totally accomplished in your PJs at home.

Really, the best thing about this tofu treatment is how versatile it is. I tend to follow a simple formula: tofu + grains + vegetables. Think white rice or even soba noodles, shaved daikon or crunchy Persian cucumbers. I’ve used this crispy tofu to round out a rice bowl with sautéed mushrooms and gomae, but you can’t really go wrong here. Just don’t forget the sliced scallions, which are a must—they’ll tie together any fridge scraps into a next-level tofu bowl you’ll be stoked to eat any day.

Get your glaze on:

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