I am a cheat, and there is no point denying it.

Canned beans had no place in Mom’s kitchen, but they’re right at home in mine. I can blame years of long hours at work with too little time left for cooking.

Or I can be honest and just call myself lazy.

The fact is, dry beans that are soaked and boiled until they’re just right are a joy — and they’re great for you. Plenty of fiber and protein, with only as much sodium as your stingy fingers care to pinch.

The trick to getting satisfactory results with canned beans is to experiment with brands as well as types. Let’s face it: Some of this stuff is just mush, like little pellets of oatmeal.

But I’ve found consistently firm and flavorful beans in the least expected places. The store brand at our local supermarket, Publix, for example. Their Great Northern Beans suit me just fine for this recipe, a simple but delicious (and filling) appetizer or snack. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly to reduce the salt.

You think this is heresy? Mom would take your side.
I’ll just take a heaping bowl of plaki, nicely chilled, with a wedge of lemon.



Plaki is a healthy bean and vegetable recipe that works well as an appetizer, main dish, or side dish.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Doug Kalajian


  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled and diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • dash salt
  • 2 15-oz. cans white beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • lemon juice or lemon wedges for serving, optional


  • Blend the tomato paste with about 2 cups of water in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil. Add the carrots, celery, potatoes and garlic and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender,
  • Add the beans and cook on medium-low heat, about 15-20 minutes more, stirring now and then. Remove pot from stove.
  • In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Saute the onion until golden brown, but not burned. Add to cooked plaki.
  • Serve warm, chilled or at room temperature with a squeeze of lemon juice or lemon wedges, if desired.

View Comments

  • Sounds yummy! How long would you say it takes to cook the carrots, celery, potatoes and garlic?

  • I never use canned beans, because it's unhealthy, for they put preservatives. I prefer to soak overnight and boil them,it's healthier and I have plenty of time for cooking, I don't blame other women who use canned beans because they don't have time they are working mothers like my mother did.

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