Use tinned beans for convenience, but dried ones for a fuller flavour and better texture; when cooking the beans, don't add salt or the skins will harden; these beans take on other flavours really well so are a great addition to spicy stews, garlicky salads and other recipes.
There are three main types of haricot bean: firstly, the long, thin, shiny-ivory one that the Italians sometimes call cannellini. These are delicious in salads, stews, and Tuscan bean and pasta soup; they are also the kind used in France, cooked in the Breton way and served with mutton and lamb.
The second type of haricot is the small round one of tinned baked bean fame. I think they are inferior to, and lack the flavour of, their handsomer cousins. A member of the same family, tiny green unripe flageolets have a wonderful flavour.
Haricot beans are cheap, they help to bulk out meat and they are also very nutritious and filling. The other advantage is they are very good at absorbing the flavours of the dish.
If you're serving these, there's no need to serve either rice or potatoes.
Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a starter
As it uses mainly storecupboard ingredients this nutritious salad is a good recipe to have up your sleeve for busy days.
We all know that pulses are a brilliant source of fibre and protein, so if you want to up your intake, this soup is just one way of doing so. The cannellini beans give the soup a creamy texture and the flavour is out of this world!
Cassoulet is made with all sorts of lovely French ingredients, but for a more economical version, this poor man's cassoulet is just the thing. Make sure you use good-quality meaty sausages.
Braised oxtail really is a winter treat and the good news is that it won't break the bank. Here, Delia has combined oxtail with Guinness and cannellini beans for a really sumptuous feast.
Serves 4, or 6 as a starter
In Thailand, they use pomelo in salads, which is very similar to grapefruit. I have used pink grapefruit here, but when they're not available, you could ring the changes and use a thinly sliced, medium-sized mango.