All Things Considered

Foods that are good for you and good for the soil

Hazelnut cookies
Beth Dooley says hazelnuts are delicious and packed with nutrients. Pictured are hazelnut cookies.
Courtesy of Beth Dooley

It’s the last day of January and maybe you’ve made a goal to eat healthier at the start of the year. Or you’re still looking for ways to get started. Or perhaps you’ve fallen off the wagon and would like to restart.

Well, it’s still not too late. Appetites regular Beth Dooley shares ideas for foods to try that are good for you and good for the soil: from elderberries to legumes to hazelnuts.

Click play on the audio player above for the full interview and check out two bean recipes below.

Simple Greek Bean Salad

Serves 4

Note: Feel free to use any cooked or canned bean you’d like in this simple salad or use several different kinds of beans. Make this ahead because it tastes better about an hour or two after it’s made and will keep in the refrigerator in a covered container for a week. Makes a great side dish or appetizer.

1/2 pound beans — white beans, black eyed peas, or navy beans, picked over and soaked for a couple of hours in enough water to cover the beans by 4 inches

1 small onion halved

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons hazelnut or extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

Chopped parsley for garnish

Lemon wedges for serving


Drain the soaked beans and return to the pot with enough cold water to cover by 4 inches. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.

Set over high heat, bring to a boil reduce the heat and simmer the beans until tender, but not mushy, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain, remove and discard the onion, garlic and bay leaf.

Turn the beans into a dish and toss with the olive oil, lemon juice and the onion. Season to taste and serve garnished with the parsley and the lemon wedges on the side.

Garlicky Bean Spread with Cilantro, Green Onions and Za’atar

Makes about 2 to 2-1/2 cups

Note: You can make this with any creamy bean (cannellini, fat gigante or pinto beans). It’s a nice break from chickpea hummus, but those will work nicely, too.

1-1/2 cups cooked beans (see above)

1/2 cup hazelnut or extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon Za’atar, plus more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse together the oil, garlic, onions, and cilantro until you have a rough paste. Pulse in the Za’atar and then the salt and lemon juice.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve garnished with Za’atar.

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