Leftover Legumes & Pulses

A smidge of beans or a tupper of peas might not seem like it’s even worthwhile saving. Think about transforming these nutritional power horses into something marvelous.

Bear with me as this page is being updated!

Pesto Pasta Salad Grilled Vegetables
Pesto Pasta Salad has a decidedly Italian Flair.

Keep in mind your leftovers might not be an exact amount a recipe calls for. Baking is more of a science, cooking is an art and art is always open to interpretation! Feel free to scale & estimate.

You might be wondering why it’s worthwhile to save a few beans when they’re so cheap. Think of them as a great shortcut to have on hand – especially if you skip the canned and have made them home-made.


Already cooked beans may be stored in the fridge for two to three days. Be sure to handle safely, refrigerate promptly in containers that will cool quickly. Don’t put a big pot in the fridge. Beans freeze very well for several months. Here’s a few ideas that work well with just about any type of cooked, dry bean or pea.

Plan for leftovers by cooking extra and freezing in packets (about 1 1/2 cups is the equivalent of a can.)

Any Bean or Pulse:

Most of the ideas, below, will work with just about any beans, peas or lentils.

Summer Bean Salad Corn Green Beans Limas
Summer Bean Salad

1. add to soups:

Just toss in at the end of the cooking process to your soup. Beans go well in so many traditional soups but their flavors are so mellow they can go in almost anything.

2. salads or bowls:

A no-brainer idea – just toss into whatever salad, power bowl, Goddess bowl or other salad you’re making.

3. pasta salad:

Add to pasta salads. Here’s one of my favorites, a Pesto Pasta Salad, and yes, it has beans.

4. marinate:

Make a Three Bean Salad, like this one from Simply Recipes, or search out recipes for marinated beans.

5. add to burgers:

Mash and add it to ground beef for moist and juicy hamburgers, like these Beef & Black Bean Burgers from Relish.

6. make a dip:

Whir in the blender with a bit of olive oil, some herbs, possibly nuts and make a marvelous dip. Add lemon or lime for some zip, My White Bean Dip is especially scrumptious.

7. add to grains:

Add to rice, quinoa or any other grain for a complete protein. Search for a recipe or get creative. Grains and beans are a classic combo, and this Southwestern Protein Mix is a favorite.

8. refrieds or purees:

Not just for black beans or pintos. Refried beans are marvelous with many leftover beans. White beans can be mashed or pureed with olive oil and lemon, for instance.

9. sneak into wraps:

Add to your favorite wraps, either whole or mashed. When they’re mashed, they help to hold the whole works together.

10. breakfast:

Add to eggs or serve with eggs for breakfast. If black, white or pinto, add a little salsa. Many others go well with pesto.


Black Beans & Pintos:

With their Mexican or Southwestern flair, these are some of the easiest beans to refashion.

Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa in Southwestern Steak salad
Southwestern Steak Salad – from leftover steak

1. add to dips & salsas:

Great in dips and salsa with a southwestern flavor; add tomato, lime, red and/or green bell pepper, cilantro, garlic and olive oil and a touch of cayenne. If you’d like an actual recipe to look at, see Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa.

2. nachos:

Leftover beans can be tossed on or mashed and dolloped on basic simple chip & cheese nachos or on fully loaded one. Treat yourself!

3. casseroles:

We love this Taco Casserole, but the possibilities are just about endless, from traditional to Mexican American.

4. huevos rancheros:

Make Huevos Rancheros once and you’ll be hooked (and realize how easy it is to pull off a marvelous breakfast or brunch. Check this recipe from Serious Eats. Just scale up or down depending on how many beans you have and how many people you’re serving.

5. add to tacos:

Whole, refried or mashed, add to tacos to stretch a little mean, just for the flavor, or add protein to a vegetarian mix.


White Beans:

When I think white beans, I think Mediterranean. Combine with olive, oil, Italian or Greek seasonings or pesto for awesome flavor combos.

Shrimp & Kale Bundles – Place parchment in a bowl, then add the mixture, gather up and tie loosely


White beans are a great spread for crostini. Roughly mash and flavor with olive oil, lemon and rosemary. The Chew has a marvelous recipe that could be scaled down for a White Bean Crositini with Arugula.

2. layer into casseroles:

Smash with a little milk and layer or dollop into casseroles. A little extra creaminess and protein never hurts. Good Housekeeping has a Cherry Tomato Casserole that features white beans.

3. puree as a side:

Puree and heat with a bit of milk or cream, add lemon for a side dish. White Beans with Lemon and Dill is one of our family faves (but isn’t on my blog.)

4. stretch expensive items:

It doesn’t take too many beans to add substance to these Shrimp & Kale bundles. Measurement does not need to be exact, and this is a great hack for many dishes.

5. make fritters:

Mash, add egg and flour, spices or herbs or your choice (think Indian or Italian) form into patties and fry. Serve as a side; especially good with a salad.


Chickpeas combine well with Mexican, Indian and Spanish flavors and are the basis for many vegetarian meals. With their popularity, it’s pretty easy to come up with great leftover ideas.

Crispy Crunchy Oven Roasted Chickpeas

1. hummus:

Chickpeas or Garbanzos are the basis for hummus, puree with olive oil, garlic, tahini and lemon. It’s a bit of a no- brainer. You’ll see several recipes on my Appetizer page.

2. roasted:

Roasted chickpeas start out with cooked chickpeas, so leftover chickpeas are a great way to start. Here’s a favorite recipe for Crispy Oven Roasted Chickpeas.

3. add to curries:

A natural. Here’s a beautiful Chickpea Curry with Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes from Epicurious.

4. combine with greens:

For a side or a meal, combine chickpeas with greens for a healthy feast. Here’s a recipe from Epicurious for a spicy dish.

5. blend in soups:

While you can always toss beans into soup, chickpeas will add body to all kinds of creamed soups. Tomato soup is a great combo with chickpeas.


Lentils with Chorizo

Leftover lentils can be a bit tricky to pair with items, as they’re so often cooked as dishes with lots of flavorings on their own.

1. cracker spread:

Add a little cumin or curry and use as a spread for crackers.

2. topping for mashes or filling for stuffed sweet potatoes:

If you’re lentils are already made into a dish, serve over purees like mashed potatoes or pureed parsnips.

3. add to rice:

Layer in rice dishes or sides and serve pilaf style.

4. dal:

Make a cheater dal by simmering lentils with garam masala and a few tomatoes until creamy.

5. add to vegetables:

Toss with vegetables; especially good with roasted vegetables. Add a little vinaigrette.

Split Peas:

Split peas are another tough sell as a leftover. My biggest experience is Split Pea Soup, although there are other ways to cook them. I think of the yellow split peas more often with African and Island cooking, the Green as European.

dhalpluri roti – photo from One Green Planet

1. split pea soup crostini or crackers:

Split pea soup, cold and gelled, makes a really good crostini or cracker topping. I know it sounds strange, but the flavor mimics many spreads with fava beans.

2. roti:

Split peas may be used layered in Roti, as in this recipe for Dhalpuri Roti.


I know I’ve only scratched the surface here! What are your favorite things to do with left over beans and legumes?

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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