Black (a.k.a. Turtle Bean)
An earthy, sweet bean small in size and often used in Caribbean and South/Central American cuisines. If you cook black beans in their soaking water, they will retain more of their dark coloring.
A common workhorse bean in the U.S., the pinto is most frequently served refried. Pintos lose their streaks and turn solid brownish-pink when cooked.
This small, round bean is very sweet, plump, and juicy when cooked, which makes it great as a simple pot bean. The pink color turns brownish when cooked.
French Green Lentil
A very tiny lentil with a speckled gray-green exterior and a yellowish interior. It is less starchy than the common flat green lentil and doesn’t get mushy as easily, which makes it perfect for using in salad recipes like this one made with bacon.
From Peru, this large lima bean tastes like chestnuts when cooked and even has a similar texture. You can also cook it longer for a creamier texture. Sando says it’s great prepared with garlic and lots of mushrooms. It is one of the few beans that retain their pretty markings when cooked, but the window is short—cook longer and the markings will disappear.
This medium-sized bean is so incredibly rich and creamy (almost peanut buttery when cooked) that Sando recommends cutting it with something like bitter greens. He says that it’s a favorite of the French Laundry, and that it’s a bean people either love or hate.
A medium-sized, subtly flavored white bean that’s great in our pasta e fagioli. Cannellini beans are versatile and work well in soups, stews, or even in a hummuslike dip, which makes them a good pantry staple. Like kidney beans, they need to be boiled for at least 10 minutes to remove toxins.
This small, round red bean has a sweet flavor and is used in Japanese desserts like our sweet porridge with mochi. It is also a popular bean for sprouting because of its nutty flavor when sprouted.
A small, dense white bean named for its longtime service to the U.S. Navy. It’s often the bean in a can of pork and beans and is a classic for baked beans. Allow plenty of time for navy beans to cook.
This large bean is often grown ornamentally for its beautiful bright red flowers, and can be eaten young, pod and all, like a flat green bean, or shelled and dried. It is similar to a lima bean, with a meaty, starchy texture. Sando says scarlet runners create a “beef bouillon–like, dark and dense pot liquor” when cooked.
Fava (a.k.a. Broad Bean)
A large, flat bean that has been cultivated since ancient times and is similar in shape to a large lima. Favas are a spring delicacy, when they appear fresh at farmers’ markets, and can be shelled and lightly cooked in dishes like this farro risotto. In their dried form (pictured), they are often stewed in variations of the dish ful medames throughout the Middle East.