Orginally posted on steemit: https://steemit.com/@nickelnerds
Weekends are for batch cooking, and legumes are a staple we partake in at least once a week.
My introduction to beans was through a can, but I quickly graduated to the dried kind for cost savings and variety. Dried legumes plump up to about double their size when cooked, which adds to their value.
If you don't regularly eat them now, you may be surprised by the many types available at most supermarkets. There's a whole bean universe out there; check it out!
Staring down a bag of beans can be a little intimidating, but I promise the art of coaxing the little dried vegetables into delicious recipes is quite simple once you get the hang of a few guiding principles.
First, check the age of those things. When exactly did you buy that bag of pintos that was stashed in the back of the cupboard? Beans have an impressive shelf life but after too long they may lose the ability to soften with cooking. The actual timeline is debatable, it depends on the storage method, conditions, all types of things. One way to check and see if your beans are still viable; soak a few bits in some shallow water. If they start to sprout after a couple of days, they still got a little life in them!
Dried beans love a good soak. Douse them in plenty of water; there should be a few inches of liquid floating over the top. Then wait. Soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. When done, rinse thoroughly.
Beans are a slow, but low-maintenance meal. A slow cooker is my kitchen tool of choice, but you can use a stockpot over the range. A pressure cooker can yield results faster. Small and split beans will cook up quickly compared to their medium/large whole bean relatives. Lentils are especially good for a meal that can be made in minutes.
And the recipes! There tons of options, across many different cuisines that feature legumes as the start ingredients. Start with some recipes that sound good to you but be sure to branch out and experiment. Some bean basics; use ample liquid (stock, tomato sauce, and good 'ol plain water works fine). Cook to doneness; the bean should be soft but still hold its shape and have a satisfying "give" when you bite into it (this is for whole bean varieties). Learn to combine spices, serve complementary sides and have fun!
This week I made a chili. With a base of black beans, I combined ground turkey, diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, green chiles and a few spices. I’ll serve it with rice or cornbread.
I would love to hear about your love of the legume! Let me know if you have a favorite.