Sunday, May 3, 2009

All About Beans: A ChefsLine Cooking Guide . . . best of articles, recipes, and downloads.

originally posted at ChefsLine.

Beans pictured are (from left to right, top to bottom): red lentils, black beans, pinto beans, French green lentils, split peas, navy beans, garbanzo beans, mung beans, and green lentils.

One of the most readily available, affordable, and tasty “superfoods” are beans. Beans are the proof that many a beautiful meal can be made with just a few quality ingredients. I personally adore beans - and nothing is easier to pull together than a sublime soft pinto bean and veggie burrito. Even though I almost always have a pot either soaking or cooking - the prospect of dealing with dried beans can be daunting for some home cooks which is why I offer you some of my best time-saving tips in this guide. Packed with nutritional value and easy on the wallet … beans are also the centerpiece of a big range of cuisines and can satisfy almost any food mood.

In the All About Beans Cooking Guide, you’ll find inspiration, tons of recipes, and large doses of tips on how to avoid some of legume’s infamous side effects.

Dish Ideas and Recipe Collection

Beans are so flexible and pair well with almost all vegetables and are great vehicles for a myriad of different sauces. You can truly consider and should think “can I add some beans to this dish” when preparing a meal. They are your opportunity to forgo meat and add protein.

  • Have beans with breakfast. They’re great day-starters, and go great with other breakfast foods, which is something that English cafes and American cowboys are very familiar with.
  • Bean dips and spreads are very easy to prepare and are perfect do-ahead appetizers for a party or buffet. Many beans dips and spreads also feature garlic and are presented with crostini or evoke the infamous Seven Layer Dip. For a change of pace, incorporate more citrus and offer steamed vegetables with your bean dips. For a great dip with corn chips, simply puree pinto beans with sour cream and scallions.

Selecting, Storing, and Cooking Beans

Most beans are extremely affordable, especially if they are available in bulk (with the possible exception of fava beans, which are less often available and so can cost a bit more).

Canned and dried beans can sit around in a cold dry place for a very long time. Cooked beans can be frozen for up to a month if wrapped tightly in plastic, and for up to five days in the refrigerator.

Cooking raw dried beans is also a mostly carefree operation. The time spent preparing beans is largely unattended time so requires just some advance planning. Personally, I almost always have a small pot of beans soaking in my refrigerator because they are a key to my daily diet. If you do cook your beans from scratch, I highly recommend preparing the whole bag because once cooked, they freeze very well. Of course, canned beans are a perfectly legitimate way to add more beans to your meals.

When cooking kidney beans, boil them for at least ten minutes, then strain and rinse them to remove a dangerous toxin. Then cook them however you like.

Soaking and Cooking Times for Different Types of Beans

Adzuki Beans

soak for 4 hours

cook 1 hour

Black Beans

soak for 4 hours

cook1 to 1 1/2 hours

Black-Eyed Peas

No need to soak

cook 1 to 1 1/4 hours

Brown Lentils

cook 30 to 45 minutes (No need to soak Lentils)


No need

cook for 30 minutes

Fava (Broad Beans)

soak for 12 hours

cook for 3 hours

Ful Nabed (Broad Beans)

soak for 12 hours

cook 3 hours

Garbanzo Beans (Chick-Peas)

Soak for 4 hours

cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours

Great Northern Beans soak for 4 hours

Soak for 4 hours

cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours

Green Lentils

cook 40 to 50 minutes Red Lentils

Cook 30 to 45 minutes

Lima Beans

Soaks for 4 hours

cook 1 to 1 ½ hours

Mung Beans

soak for 4 hours

Cook 45 minutes to 1 hour

Pigeon Peas

No need to soak

cook for 30 minutes

Pink, Calico, or Red Mexican Beans

soak 4 hours

cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours

Pinto Beans

soak for 4 hours

cook1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours

Red Kidney Beans

soak for 4 hours

cook1 to 1 1/2 hours

Small White (Navy) Beans

soak for 4 hours

cook1 1/2 to 2 hours


soak for 12 hours

cook 3 to 4 hours

Split Peas

No need to soak

cook 45 minutes to 1 hour

White Kidney Beans (Cannellini)

soak for 4 hours

cook1 hour

Whole Peas

soak for 4 hours

cook40 minute

Cooking times may vary, depending on cooking temperature, time spent soaking, size, age, and altitude. You can expect to get just over two cups of cooked beans for every cup of uncooked beans.

Avoiding Gas

So now, on to the gas part. Beans cause it. Nobody wants it. Today, though, we have access to the ancient remedies for this side effect as well as brand new science.How to Reduce Gas with Beans

The reason beans cause gas is that there are some soluble fibers, which include carbohydrates, which break down into sugars, that are finally broken down in the large intestine rather than sooner, like most other foods. What we want to do it break down these components before they reach that point, either higher in the digestive system or before we even eat the beans.

Here’s a quick list of ideas to help you develop a good relationship with beans without its uninvited cousin:

  • Soak beans longer. A lot longer. It’s okay to let them ferment somewhat, so I’m talking like 2-3 days here. They will foam and smell, but do not fear. You will be rinsing and cooking the beans thoroughly before eating. The beans are now releasing gas your body will have to release if you skip this step.
  • To err on the side of safety and to ease your mind’s concerns, add 1/3 cup vinegar to the soaking beans, which kill bacteria, and throw in some slices of ginger, which has digestion-aiding properties.
  • Add a teaspoon or two of lactobacillus casei and/or lactobacillus plantarum, available in health food stores. Recent studies have shown these digestive enzymes accelerate the breaking down of the aforementioned material.
  • On the same token, any digestive enzymes will help, so eat some yogurt, which should contain acidophilus, or Beano™, or even the two digestive enzymes listed above, as per the package’s instructions.
  • Also on the same token, just as some foods create gas, other foods remove it: any raw vegetables (all foods contain digestive enzymes, but their effectiveness is often nullified by cooking, so I always encourage the inclusion of something raw in every meal, to aid in digestion and to help maximize the nutrients actually absorbed by the body), ginger, fennel, anise, turmeric, lemongrass, dill, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, bay leaf, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin.
  • Include beans in your diet more often. Studies have demonstrated that the body acclimates to the digestion of beans, and you can eventually overcome the gassy effect to a large degree simply by eating them more often.
  • Refry, or cook twice by just about any method, which can help break down the gaseous components
  • The Gas Makers: Soybeans, Peas, Black beans and pinto beans, White beans, Great Northern beans, Lima beans, Garbanzo beans, Black eyed peas

More Bean Resources

*Superfoods - although there is no legal or medical definition, the term Superfoods applies to those whole foods that offer significant health benefits and healing capabilities because of their high nutrient content. Superfoods everyone needs

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