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Weeknight Meal Idea: Easy Garlicky White Beans + Couscous (Vegan)

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Easy Garlicky White Beans with Couscous — a well-balanced, vegan family-friendly recipe that comes together in about 20 mins.

Hi friends! Emily here, sharing my first recipe for you fiiiine readers of TME. Before we get into the details of these Easy Garlicky White Beans with Couscous, a little about me and my food philosophy.

Our family is pretty special-diet agnostic when it comes to what we eat. We generally try to make food choices that are as humane and sustainable as is reasonably possible, striving for progress over perfection (a cliché I used to loathe, but totally applies here) and understanding that sometimes feeding three people with three very different preferences means settling for the lowest common denominator (pizza). So when S and I were brainstorming ideas for my first contribution, I pitched a family-friendly recipe that is a hands-down win in our house: a super-tasty Smoked Gouda Instant Pot Mac and Cheese. “I got it, I got it! You came to me for ‘real life’ recipes, and it doesn’t get any more real life than homemade mac and cheese that comes together in 15 minutes!!” (I sold it pretty hard.)

Welp, turns out it does get more real life than mac and cheese, because Shana promptly informed me that what readers (hey, that’s you!) have really been after are inspired recipes that are more sustainable in nature. Featuring more plants and less, uh, cheese. So if you’re sitting there thinking, but dannnng, girl, I was getting real excited for summa dat mac and cheese… well, this, my friends, is on you. And good on ya, because as much as I LOVE ME some mac n’ cheese, these Garlicky White Beans deliver the same level of homestyle comfort in a dish that’s light, bright and perfect for summer.

YUM — an easy weeknight vegan dinner recipe serving up a whole lot of flavor that's healthy — we're in! Check out these garlicky white beans & couscous.

Easy Garlicky White Beans & Couscous Recipe

Let’s break it down. A bed of quick-cooking couscous (or quinoa, if you’re avoiding gluten). Tender white beans (I threw some pinto beans into the mix, too, just for color) and LOADS of mild, garlic-studded olive oil. A simple trio of savory seasonings that you’re likely to have sitting in your pantry at this very moment. Vivacious herbs (oh, but the herbs..!). And just enough lemon to make the whole shebang sing. *cue angelic harmonies*

This, my friends, is responsible weeknight dining at its best. Flavorful, kid-friendly, totally plant-based and, perhaps best yet, ready in 20 minutes.

Oh.

And if that Smoked Gouda Instant Pot Mac and Cheese still sounds good to you?
I, um, went ahead and published that bad boy right over here. 😉

YUM — an easy weeknight vegan dinner recipe serving up a whole lot of flavor that's healthy — we're in! Check out these garlicky white beans & couscous.YUM — an easy weeknight vegan dinner recipe serving up a whole lot of flavor that's healthy — we're in! Check out these garlicky white beans & couscous.YUM — an easy weeknight vegan dinner recipe serving up a whole lot of flavor that's healthy — we're in! Check out these garlicky white beans & couscous.YUM — an easy weeknight vegan dinner recipe serving up a whole lot of flavor that's healthy — we're in! Check out these garlicky white beans & couscous.

Yield: 4-5 Servings

Easy Garlicky White Beans with Couscous (Vegan)

Easy Garlicky White Beans with Couscous (Vegan)

Easy Garlicky White Beans with Couscous -- a well-balanced, plant-based family-friendly recipe that comes together in about 20 mins.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cans white (cannellini) beans
  • 2 cups uncooked Israeli pearl couscous (about one 8.8 oz box)
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3/4 tsp pink himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pea shoots or arugula, for serving
  • fresh dill, chopped (for serving)
  • fresh chives, chopped (for serving)
  • lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Drain beans and rinse well. Set aside.
  2. Cook couscous according to package instructions.
  3. While couscous cooks, Add olive oil, garlic and onion to a large cold cast iron skillet or Dutch oven and set over medium-low to medium heat. (If you know your stove tends to run hot, act conservatively to start. Burning the garlic means starting from scratch, and there's a lot of good oil in the pan we don't want to waste!)
  4. Bring oil, garlic and onion to temperature together, stirring frequently, about 8-10 mins, until oil is frothy and garlic and onion are tender and silky but not browned. (If you sense they are beginning to brown at all, reduce heat, removing the pan from heat briefly, if needed, to slow cooking.)
  5. Add beans, salt, paprika and cumin to garlic mixture and toss gently to heat through, about 2 mins. Taste and adjust with more salt, if needed.
  6. Serve beans atop couscous topped with plenty of the fresh dill and chives, a handful of pea shoots or arugula, and lots of fresh lemon squeezed over the top. Enjoy!

Notes

For a gluten-free variation: serve the beans over quinoa or cauliflower rice, instead.

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xo!
Em

P.S. All joking aside, if you have a preference for the types of recipes I share here in the future, please please comment below! And don’t forget to follow me on The Pig & Quill and Instagram (@thepigandquill) for more inspired family recipes and salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!

And this one’s for the Pinners…

YUM — an easy weeknight vegan dinner recipe serving up a whole lot of flavor that's healthy — we're in! Check out these garlicky white beans & couscous.

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About Author

Emily, aka The Pig & Quill, is here to talk all things food with some personal style mixed in. Inspired by her life on California's Northern Coast, she's eager to share real, accessible recipes that your kids will actually eat. Basically, she's magic.

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34 Comments

  1. Yay! My husband and I have been transitioning ourselves and our kids to a plant-based diet for about a year now (some kids have been more easily transitioned than others). But I cook because I have to, not because I enjoy it, and most vegan recipes are difficult to make, as well as unappealing to my non-foodie children. This one looks easy, delicious, and kid-friendly!

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Oh, awesome, I hope you guys love it! Will definitely strive for a good balance of recipes in the future, including more along this vein. 🙂

  2. Thank you for the mac and cheese recipe – reading this post, I was afraid we wouldn’t see that, but you did the right thing! Please do more recipes similar to that one! In our family, we don’t really care for vegan/vegetarian, so please include something for meat eaters. Thanks!!!

  3. Oh, man. I love Shana’s aesthetic and I’m all for sustainability, but…less cheese? Nooooooooope. Mac n cheese please! I like vegan options but I have picky kids to feed!

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Hahaha, all things in moderation! And surprisingly my kiddo is almost as into this meal as she is man n’ cheese. Give ’em both a go! (I left the link to the Mac n’ Cheese at the bottom of the post!)

  4. This recipe looks delish, I will be trying it out! I’m with you on being special diet agnostic. So I would have been down with mac and cheese too! Progress over prefection for sure!

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Haha, good to know! All things in moderation…including moderation. That’s the saying, right? 😉

  5. Yay for plant based recipes! We have been whole food plant based for over seven years (it’s all my kids have ever known) and I’m always looking for new, easy recipes. I’ll try this one without the oil and see how it turns out. Thank you! 🙂 For cheese lovers, there’s almost nothing cashews and a vitamix can’t do. 😉

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Agreed about the cashews and the blender! We make a vegan caesar dressing that’s cashew-based and it knocks the socks off of any other recipe I’ve tried, vegan or not. Quick note on the oil: I know it seems like a lot, but it’s providing the only fat in the whole dish, and it’s key to getting the garlic (of which there is a lot!) buttery soft and sweet. Might try scaling it back rather than omitting it completely. Enjoy!

  6. I can’t wait to try this vegan recipe out! I agree with Shana, plant based is the best effective approach for eco-sustainability and the humane treatment of animals (the dairy industry is one of the worst offenders on both counts). Avoiding dairy helps those of us with allergies or intolerances too. And veganized mac & cheez is delicious too.

    • Emily Stoffel on

      We do a lot of vegan mac and cheese, too, and my kiddo definitely eats it, but she doesn’t *not* notice the difference, haha. In a household where not everyone would willingly eat a completely plant-based diet, we try to walk the line. (I actually don’t love the way dairy makes me feel, but I make the exception for special indulgences.) Hope you give the recipe a shot!

  7. This is exactly what I was looking for to try something my kids will actually eat, and I will actually be willing to give them! Trying this tonight. Thank you!!

  8. I think it’s great to take this approach, but I’ve tried the cashew/blender alternatives (I don’t have a vitamix, but if someone’s offering…) and it doesn’t do it for me. I just wanted to let Emily (and the TME team) know that there’s an audience here for her dairy-friendly recipes (and perhaps even meat-friendly recipes) as well as whole food plant based ones.

    • Emily Stoffel on

      I hear ya, JS — thanks for commenting! Lotsa good stuff coming your way. 🙂 (And I swear a vitamix makes all the diff on the cashew thing…try searching their refurbished website for a deal!)

  9. I feel compelled to offer the opinion that one of the most sustainable food options we have is to support local farmers and ranchers who are loving and tending their land and animals. Diversity is better than mono-cultures, even if those mono-cultures are plants. Animals play an exceedingly important role in maintaining productive land. It is better for the planet, the earth, our country, and our neighborhoods to eat a bit of dairy and meat (and ALL the plants) from these kinds of farmers than it is to eat food products grown and distributed from other countries or from gigantic and highly unsustainable farms. And that includes “organic” farms! Anyway, you all know this, but as the daughter of a Montana rancher who is the very first to sell AGA-certified grass fed beef directly from his ranch to the store, I have to speak up. The 40,000 acre ranch that he runs is a gorgeous, diverse haven for all kinds of wildlife and native plants, and he has transformed abused and barren land by intentional and holistic grazing. Joel Salatin is the best spokesperson we have. Check it out!

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Hi Axon, thanks for the insight! Absolutely no argument here. We’re fortunate to have access to local grass-fed meats and pasture-raised eggs and dairy where we live, so when we do choose to include those items in our diet, we make every attempt to buy from the farmers in our area. That said, the premium price associated with those products (which is 100% justified), and our particular desire to increase our plant intake, just means that those items don’t make it onto the dinner table every night. But we’re most definitely privileged to have the choice, here. There are plenty of people for whom this caliber of product is out of reach, both geographically and financially. Something that definitely needs to change!

  10. This was so so good! I had just about everything in my pantry and I made it last night. Everyone, including my 3 year old, looooved it! It will be kept in the rotation for sure! For future recipes, would love to see things that are delicious for adults, but that toddlers would go for too – I hate making multiple dinners! Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Oh, so glad you loved it, Michele! Our kiddo (4 years old) is a big fan of it, too. Thanks for providing the feedback — always tricky balancing different family member preferences (or toddler eating quirks!).

  11. My teenage daughter is vegetarian and can’t eat many alternative proteins due to food allergies. I’m always struggling with dinner. I was very excited when I saw this recipe and already had half the ingredients in my cupboard, so I picked up the rest and made it last night. So fantastic!! This one is a keeper for sure! Going to try the Mac n’ Cheese too. Looking forward to seeing more!

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Oh, I’m so glad this was something the whole family enjoyed! Hope you love the Mac n’ Cheese, too! 🙂

  12. Joel Salatin is really important and I agree with all of this. I posted my reply below but for some reason it didn’t show up in the right place. Anyway, yes, agree with all your comments. And those who can afford such food should support it. Wages should be higher so everyone can partake.

  13. Real talk: does your kiddo eat watermelon radishes (as pictured in the kid’s plate photo)?! I love them but they’re spicy! It’s a definite no from my kids. . .

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Real talk (haha), it depends on the radish. Generally speaking, she loves radishes, but if they’re super spicy, she usually opts out. This particular watermelon radish was mild, so yes — she ate everything on this plate exactly as you see it. (Literally as soon as I was done snapping the photos!) We also really like purple daikon radishes around here — super pretty and they’re almost always mild, almost like jicama.

  14. This was DELICIOUS. I don’t follow any particular diet (meat, cheese and Magnum ice cream bars all have a place in my home along with quinoa, chia seeds, and kale, haha), but it’s nice to add another tasty meatless meal to my repertoire. One change I made was to serve the beans over farro, as I already had that on hand, and I think it worked perfectly. My super pickypants kid deigned to try one bean and one nibble of farro and rejected both. I am patiently waiting for the day he eats more than mac n’ cheese, PBJ, grilled cheese, and chicken tenders. (He’s 9! Wasn’t he supposed to outgrow this by now?) But I digress… Thank you for this fantastic and easy recipe! It was so good it instantly earned a spot in my binder of go-to dinner meals. 🙂

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Yeahhhh! Farro sounds absolutely awesome here. So glad you loved it. And your home sounds much like ours, Magnum ice cream bars included! (As for the kiddo — can you blame him!? Those are some of my fave foods, too!)

  15. This looks great! I’m a vegetarian who sometimes cooks for vegans and I’m always looking for quick dinners with easy to find ingredients.

  16. I am so thrilled! My 3.5 year old helped me make this AND ate it, deconstructed beans and cous cous and dill and cucumbers all in little piles. Huge win for this household! I thought it was yummy too 🙂 Thank you!!

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Woohoo! I LOVE hearing this! Cooking *with* you — what a win! And hey — deconstructed or not, it all ends up in the same place, so I’m always a proponent of serving things up that way if it means they’re more likely to try it. Go mama! 🙂

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