Once you learn the art of cooking dried beans, you’ll never run out of this versatile and satisfying ingredient. Not only are beans affordable and nutritious, but they are also incredibly easy to cook. Let’s dive into the world of beans and discover the secrets to creating delectable dishes that will leave your taste buds begging for more!
Cooking Dried Beans: Simple Steps for Success
Cooking dried beans is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Here’s what you need to do:
1. Pick them over
Before you start cooking, take a moment to examine the beans. Occasionally, small stones or debris find their way into the pack. Sift through the beans and discard any shriveled or discolored ones, as well as any unwanted debris. This simple step ensures that your dish will be made with only the finest ingredients.
2. To soak, or not to soak?
While not mandatory, soaking your beans before cooking is highly recommended. Soaking reduces the cooking time significantly and makes the beans easier to digest. Place the beans in a large bowl, covering them with water by 2 to 3 inches. Discard any beans that float to the surface. Allow the beans to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse the soaked beans, ready to be transformed into a culinary masterpiece.
3. Time to cook!
Transfer the soaked beans to a large pot and cover them with 2 inches of water. If you’re using unsoaked beans, rinse them in a fine mesh strainer before adding them to the pot. Bring the water to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. After 30 minutes, discard any foam that rises to the surface. Season the beans with salt and continue cooking until they reach the desired tenderness. Depending on the size and freshness of the beans, this could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Remember to check them regularly, ensuring they are cooked to perfection.
When the beans are tender, season them to taste, remove them from the heat, and let the flavors meld together. Store your cooked beans in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze them for several months, allowing you to enjoy their goodness whenever you please. For the full recipe, see below.
Exceptions to the Rule: Cooking Dried Beans Made Easy
While the above method can be applied to most bean varieties, there are a few exceptions worth noting:
Lentils: These legumes don’t require soaking and have a shorter cooking time. Each lentil variety has its unique texture and flavor. Learn more about cooking black, green, brown, and red lentils for perfect results every time.
Split peas: Green and yellow split peas cook quickly and don’t need soaking. Green split peas cook in about 25 minutes, while yellow split peas take 30-40 minutes. They are fantastic for soups, as they dissolve into a smooth, creamy puree as they cook.
Adzuki beans: These little red beans boast a delightful sweet and nutty flavor. If you can find them, don’t miss the opportunity to try them! Cook them for 35-40 minutes with salt and your desired aromatics for a truly exquisite dish.
Seasoning Dried Beans: Elevating the Flavor
While beans cooked with sea salt and water are delicious on their own, adding aromatic ingredients elevates them to new heights. These simple additions transform the starchy cooking liquid into a fragrant broth that complements the beans perfectly. Consider experimenting with the following aromatics:
A strip of kombu: Optional but helpful for making beans more digestible.
Onions and garlic: Quartered onions, halved shallots, or smashed garlic cloves add depth and aroma.
Herbs: A sprig of fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, or cilantro leaves or stems enhances the flavor profile. Frozen herbs work wonders too!
Spices: Black peppercorns, freshly ground black pepper, bay leaves, or dried chilies add a touch of warmth and complexity.
Vegetable scraps: Onion ends, fennel fronds, scallion tops, or celery leaves are perfect for infusing extra flavor. Freeze these scraps for future bean cooking or homemade vegetable stock.
Add your chosen aromatics to the pot along with salt, approximately 30 minutes into the cooking process. When the beans are tender, remove and discard the add-ins before serving. Feel free to get creative and experiment with different combinations. Let us know what variations you try!
More Pantry Basics to Explore
Now that you’ve mastered the art of cooking beans, why stop there? Expand your culinary horizons by learning how to cook other pantry staples. Try your hand at creating delicious dishes with white rice, brown rice, farro, quinoa, couscous, tofu, or tempeh. The possibilities are endless!
Ready to embark on a gastronomic adventure? Head over to Ekilove for more delectable recipes and tips that will inspire your inner chef.
Remember, cooking is an art that allows you to delight in the flavors and nourishment of every dish. Enjoy the process, savor the aromas, and share the love of cooking with those around you. Happy bean cooking!