Someone holding Cool Beans cookbook by Joe Yonan.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Let’s Eat! Kitchn’s September Pick for Cookbook Club Is “Cool Beans” by Joe Yonan.

updated Aug 24, 2020
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Hey, Cookbook Club-ers! How was your month (so far) cooking out of Grace Young’s Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge? As I predicted, I loved the eggplant and pork (page 228) and also really enjoyed her kung pao chicken. The book is just chock-full of great ideas and lessons, and it’s going to take me much longer than just August to really sit with it all.

Speaking of which, it’s almost September (how?) and I’m excited to announce that our cookbook pick for the month is Joe Yonan’s Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein. Beans are one of those things I never, ever get sick of, so I’m so thrilled to dive in for September. Read more on why we chose this cookbook and how you can participate next month!

Want to follow along with Kitchn’s digital Cookbook Club? Here’s how to participate.

  1. Get the book! You can buy the book here or look for it at your local library; while many libraries are currently closed, you may be able to access a digital copy. Also consider buying from your local bookstore!
  2. Join Kitchn Cookbook Club Facebook group. This is our private space for all of you to talk about the book, ask questions, and chat about what you’re cooking. Click here to join! It’s very active.
  3. Share a recipe review on Instagram and tag with #kitchncookbookclub. Make a recipe from Cool Beans. Post a photo of your dish on Instagram, with a short review of the recipe in the caption.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Why Cool Beans Is Our Cookbook Pick for September

There is so much to be said about a humble pot of beans. When cooked right, they are meaty and tender and flavorful. They’re also budget-friendly, good for your health, and good for the planet. Just like with rice, a simple pot of beans is your passport to cuisines from all around the world. So many cultures have their own preparation and use for beans — you just have to decide what you want to eat for dinner.

Beans have always been popular in their own quiet way. I mean, they’re ancient! They don’t need your PR representation. But I will say, that at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States back in March and April, beans felt like they reached kale status circa 2014 (remember Beyonce’s sweatshirt?). Because beans are usually cheap and pantry-friendly, they were flying off shelves while people were limiting their grocery store runs. As pandemic life has become the new normal, beans have become less of a celebrity (the same goes for banana bread and sourdough), but their power remains.

So maybe you’ve become a recent convert to #teambean? Or maybe you’ve always been a bean obsessive? If so, this month’s cookbook pick is for you.

Joe Yonan is the longtime Food and Dining Editor at the Washington Post, and he put out a cookbook all about beans this past February (what timing!). In Cool Beans, Yonan draws upon his travels and relationships with chefs (amongst other things) to create over 100 bean-powered recipes. There are dips, crackers, stews, tacos, and even a margarita made with aquafaba. It’s one of those cookbooks that you flip through and whisper to yourself I want to make that, and that, and that, and that. All of the recipes look healthy(ish) and hearty at the same time — my personal favorite combination.

I’ve been meaning to cook out of Cool Beans since I got a copy back in February, and September — the start of fall — felt like the right time to dig in. I hope you’ll join me!

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Get the Book

Do you use dry or canned beans when you cook? Most of the time I use the canned variety, but every time I do go the extra mile and use dry beans from my Rancho Gordo stash, I really notice the difference. A lot of the time I simply use canned beans because I forget to soak my dried beans the night before — but in reading Joe’s introduction I learned that, that’s not always a necessary step. Now I have no excuse!

Anyway, let’s talk recipes we’re going to make first. I have my eyes set on Lalo’s Cacahuate Beans after Joe described the lengths that he and his husband went to try this dish in Mexico City (again, in the introduction). What about you? Let me know in our Cookbook Club Facebook group! See you there.

Ariel Knutson, Features Director