Cooking Basics

What are tips for cooking dried beans

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dried beans
Skip the canned beans -- dried beans are the best
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Cooking dried beans adds flavor and drama to your dish.

Although popping open a can of already-cooked beans is a simple and easy way to enjoy the healthy legume, it’s not always the tastiest. Cooking dried beans typically makes your dish taste a bit fresher and can actually make digestion easier, which cuts back on that oh-so-embarrassing gas.  And the first step in cooking dried beans is letting them get their soak on.

Bean purists tend to agree that the traditional, slow soak is the way to go when cooking dried beans.  Soaking infuses those dried beans with moisture, which gets them tasty and develops their signature texture. To start, pull out your trusty 5- or 5.5-quart sauce pot and fill it with a pound of dried beans. Cover them with 10 cups of water and let your beans soak in their bath for six to eight hours. Drain the beans, rinse them off and you can start cooking.

For a quick soak, fill your sauce pan with 10 cups of water and bring it to a boil.  Pour in the pound of dried beans and allow the water to come back to bubbling again. Let your beans boil for two or three minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Cover it and let the beans sit for about an hour. Rinse and drain when time is up and you’re free to cook with them.

Fortunately, you can eat your favorite beans and experience less of that unappetizing gas side effect by soaking your beans in a simple way. Pour 10 cups of water in your sauce pan, then bring it to a boil. Empty your pound of beans in the pot and bring it back to a boil. Let them cook for about two or three minutes, then allow the beans to soak in the hot liquid overnight, or about eight hours. The water soaks up the sugars that cause the gas, leaving the beans with only their lovely taste – and not that gaseous after note.

A simple bean mash is a quick side dish that complements just about any cut of meat. All you need to do to create this tasty and cost-effective dish is to mash the beans with your fork until they reach a paste-like consistency. Sprinkling some tasty spices like cumin or chili powder instantly adds flavor and depth to the beans. And remember, spices that are freshly ground in a mill grinder are always more flavorful and intense than those you find already prepared. A bit of extra virgin olive oil drizzled over top and you’re ready to give your taste buds a real treat.

You can also add beans to salads, or make a soup with it. Pour some great Northern beans into warm chicken broth and add some tomato chunks for a simple, warming meal. And make a quick chili by sautéing ground beef, peppers, garlic and onions. Then add some tomato soup and beans. Shake in some spices and allow the mixture to heat up and you’re done. Bon appetite!

Resources: Basic Dried Beans

VeganCoach: Learn How to Cook Dried Beans From Scratch

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