At a first glance beans may seem rather dull. But when you take a closer look you see that beans have a rainbow of colors and a variety of shapes and flavors. The natural colors of beans are dazzling: there are white beans, pink beans, red beans, black beans. Beans can be tan, yellow, spotted, speckled, and splashed with other colors. Beans can be round, oval, flat, fat, or kidney shaped.
Their flavors range from hearty and earthy to delicate and mild. Some beans maintain their shapes in recipes and others can be smoothed into creamy dips or velvety soups. Beans are also nutritious, inexpensive, and easy to prepare. We hope these recipes will lead you to discover the wonderful world of beans!
Preparing & Cooking Dry Beans
Follow these 3 easy steps for cooking dry beans:
1. Sort: Before soaking beans, pick them over and remove any damaged beans, small stones, or dirt.
2. Soak: Most beans will rehydrate to triple their dry size, so be sure to start with a large enough pot. Choose one of the following ways to soak your beans:
Hot Soak: Hot soaking helps reduce intestinal gas. For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for up to 4 hours.
Quick Soak: For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour.
Overnight Soak: For each pound (2 cups) dry beans, add 10 cups cold water and let soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.
3. Cook: Drain soaking water and rinse beans. Cover beans with fresh water. Simmer for 1 1/2 -2 hours until tender. Quick Tip: While you are preparing dinner tonight, prepare a pot of beans for tomorrow’s dinner. Use the Overnight Soak Method. In the morning the beans will be ready for your favorite recipe.
Simple Cooking Tips
• To avoid broken or mushy beans, boil gently and stir very little.
• Taste-test beans often for desired tenderness.
• Foods containing acid such as tomatoes, chili sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, or catsup will slow the cooking and softening of the beans. Add these items last so they will not add to the cooking time.
• Any of the following can be added during the last half hour of cooking: minced onion, garlic or green pepper, diced carrots or celery, chopped tomatoes or cooked meat.
Canned beans can be a wonderful help in preparing bean dishes. Substitute canned beans in recipes calling for cooked dry beans or use in no-cook dishes, like dips and salads. To use canned beans:
• Drain beans in a colander.
• Rinse with cold water to wash away any packing liquid and excess salt.
• Add to recipes at the end of the cooking time to prevent mushiness.
4 cups white beans (cooked, see above)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red pepper (chopped)
1 onion (large, chopped)
1 chopped green chili (can adjust to taste)
3 garlic (cloves, minced)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
2 cups milk, low-fat
1/4 cup cilantro
3/4 pounds chicken (cooked and cubed)
6 corn tortillas (toasted and cut into 1- inch squares)
1. Sauté peppers and onion in olive oil.
2. Add green chili, garlic, spices and chicken broth. Simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Add milk, cooked beans, and cooked chicken and continue simmering. Allow to thicken before adding cilantro. Enjoy!
Falafel with Yogurt Sandwich
Makes 4 sandwiches
1 cup dry garbanzo beans (chick peas), sorted and rinsed
3 cups water
1/4 cup oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 large onion, chopped
1 sprig parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
1 small onion, chopped
4 Pita bread pockets
1. Put beans and water in large pot and soak by the overnight or quick-soak method.
2. Cook until tender, about 2 hours. Add more water if necessary. Drain.
3. Slowly heat oil and sauté garlic and onion until tender (5 to 7 minutes).
4. Mash cooked beans, sautéed vegetables, parsley, salt, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce until smooth.
5. With floured hands, form ovals with bean mixture (about 1/ 4 cup each). Roll in flour.
6. Fry falafel, with the remaining oil in skillet, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
7. Combine yogurt with remaining onion.
8. Serve falafel in pocket bread topped with yogurt.
Makes 4-6 burgers
1-1/4 cups lentils, sorted and rinsed
3 cups water
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup carrots, grated
3 cups bread crumbs
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
8 slices cheese
1. Combine lentils and water. Bring to boil in large saucepan. Lower heat, cover, cook 15 minutes.
2. Add onions and carrots. Cook 15 minutes more or until lentils are very tender. Remove from heat, cool slightly.
3. Stir in bread crumbs, egg, garlic salt, oregano and salt.
4. Melt butter in large skillet. Drop lentil mixture by one-half cupfuls into hot butter, flattening mounds with spatula. Cook until firm and golden brown on both sides.
5. Top each patty with 1 slice cheese; heat until melted.
6. Serve on buns if desired.