Anasazi. Heirloom beans first grown by Anasazi Indians in the western United States. Distinctive burgundy and white speckles. Rumored to cause less gas than other beans. Cooking tip: Add to any chili recipe. Bake in tomato sauce and chili powder and top with shredded cheese.
Azuki (adzuki). Small, dark red beans, native to the Orient. Thought to be therapeutic for kidney ailments. Small and fast-cooking; may cause less gas than other varieties. Cooking tip: Traditionally cooked with pumpkin or other winter squash. Add to miso soup, along with cubes of cooked squash. Combine with braised chard and brown rice.
Black. Also called turtle beans. Especially popular in Mexican, Caribbean, and South American cuisine. A rich, earthy flavor that can stand up to strong seasonings. Cooking tip: Toss with olive oil, lime juice, and minced garlic, or combine with corn, diced red pepper, cumin, and cilantro.
Cannellini. Also called white kidney beans. Smooth, creamy texture. Often used in Italian cuisine, minestrone soup, and bean salads. A good stand-in for other white beans, such as great Northern or navy beans. Cooking tip: Purée with olive oil and rosemary for a dip or a spread. Cook with garlic and Swiss chard.
Chickpeas. Also known as garbanzo beans. Dense and hearty; a staple in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisines. Cooking tip: Combine with cooked couscous, turmeric, and chopped cilantro. Roast with garlic powder until golden and crunchy.
Kidney. Medium-size, glossy, maroon beans with distinctive shape. Starchy and mild. Used in Mexican and Southwestern cooking. Cooking tip: Mash with bread crumbs, egg whites, and seasonings to make veggie burgers. Toss with green beans, garbanzos, and a light vinaigrette.
Lima. Rich and buttery. Named for their native Peru's capital city. Available fresh in their pods during summer months. Cooking tip: Toss with a little butter and minced parsley. Combine with corn and zucchini for traditional succotash.
Mung. Small, round legumes, most often used in Indian, African, and Asian dishes. Said to reduce internal heat. Cooking tip: Sprouted, use in salads and stir-fry dishes. Combine with carrots, potatoes, and Indian spices. Add to cooked brown rice and season with tamari. Combine with cubes of cooked winter squash.
Pinto. Light brown with dark speckles before cooking; a pinkish color when cooked. Used mostly in Southwestern and Mexican cooking. Cooking tip: Mash and cook in canola oil for frijoles refritos (refried beans). Combine with minced green chili peppers, minced onion, and lime juice.
Note: All tips are for cooked or canned, rinsed, and drained beans.