I grew up in a meat, two vegetables (green beans and corn) and potatoes for dinner family. The only beans of the legume variety that were ever served were baked beans when we grilled burgers and hot dogs.

When I became the cook, I sometimes switched the potato to rice or pasta, but it never occurred to me to make beans, unless I was serving hot dogs, of course.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been adding beans to our diet in soups, chilis, and hummus, but it’s only been recently that I’ve been making them as a side dish. Last night, I whipped up a white bean and pepper recipe I found on Allrecipes and tweaked a bit.

I love that beans serve the same purpose for me as potatoes, pasta or rice — something comforting and savory — but nutritionally, beans are the better bet. They’re low in fat, high in fiber, and high enough in protein that they can take the place of meat on a plate any day.

Prep time: 10 minutes  

Total time: 25 minutes  

Yield: Serves 4

Great Northern Beans and Peppers


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup sweet pepper, chopped; I used yellow and orange peppers, but any sweet pepper will do
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can great northern beans, or other white beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • dash ground black pepper to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and pepper and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Mix in the beans and all the seasonings. Heat through.
  4. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.

I served these as a side dish to homemade fish sticks and steamed broccoli. Some of the reviewers on Allrecipes gave suggestions for additions (adding diced zucchini or garlic seem like good ideas) or for serving it in other ways. Here are a couple of the serving suggestions.

  • Serve it over toasted bread as kind of a bruschetta/open-faced sandwich type of thing.
  • Served it over hot pasta with some Parmesan.
The reception that my family has given to this dish and the Slow Cooker White Beans that I made recently has me encouraged to try other bean side dishes. Any suggestions?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Recipe: Great Northern Beans and Peppers
This savory side dish takes the place of pasta, rice, or potatoes on your plate.