Green Beans: The Salty, Crunchy Side
Everything tastes better with bacon, and canned green beans are no exception. They'll taste even better if you start with French-cut (which are simply sliced diagonally); they have a more delicate texture and taste than beans that aren't cut. Sauté two or three slices of bacon, chopped; two cloves of garlic, minced; and a pinch of dried basil in olive oil. When the bacon is crispy, add the beans along with half of the liquid from the can, and cook until warmed through. Top with grated Parmesan.
Corn: The Hot and Cheesy Spoon Bread
A kind of corn pudding, spoon bread is a perfect accompaniment to fried chicken
or Creole shrimp
. It's easy to make (here's a recipe that uses Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
) and takes on even more flavor when you doctor it up with chopped jalapeños or a few shakes of Sriracha.
Peas: A Sweet and Filling Salad
Little Le Sueur peas, named after the Minnesota town where you'll find the Green Giant Company, aren't as vibrant-looking as larger peas, but they taste sweeter. A make-it-the-night-before salad is a good way to let their candy-like flavor shine. Drain a can and mix it with 2/3 cup Cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes; a chopped hard-boiled egg; a small onion, minced; and a few spoonfuls of mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper and refrigerate overnight.
Beets: The Healthy Yet Rich-Tasting Lunch
While some people are put off by this antioxidant-rich vegetable's unusual slipperiness, others love the earthy taste and soft-firm texture. Beets taste best with contrasting ingredients; try making a quick salad with the diced version (rinsed and drained), chopped English cucumber, thinly sliced red onion and blue cheese dressing.
Hearts of Palm: The Asparagus Alternative
These salad bar mainstays, which we've never seen sold fresh, are crisp and crunchy, and taste great with nothing more than a few drops of balsamic or apple cider vinegar. You can also make a salad with chopped hearts of palm, chunks of avocado, tomato and cucumber. Sliced green onions and a rice wine vinegar–olive oil dressing add a sharp counterpoint.
Potatoes: Home Fries in a Pinch
Those of the canned variety (which are usually new potatoes) are best when you get them a little crispy. Rinse them and then lay on top of paper towels to dry, patting with more towels. Season with whatever spices you like (smoked Spanish paprika is especially good) and then fry in oil with sliced onion and diced red or green pepper.
Next: The cheater's guide to homemade food