I’m back talking about beans again. I hope you have been able to enjoy the magical world of beans. If you still haven’t taken the plunge (it took me 10 years!), maybe a little more encouragement will help. I am by no means an expert on bean cookery, but here are some tips from my kitchen.

Cooking with canned beans

Canned beans are great for quick bean additions. I usually start by opening the can, dumping the beans into a colander, and rinsing them. Sometimes when I don’t feel like cleaning the colander I just use the can to do a quick rinse. I keep the lid partially attached to use as a guard to keep the beans in the can as I dump out the bean “juices”. Then I fill the can with water, dump out the water, and repeat this a couple times. I’m not sure that is easier than just cleaning the colander, but hey, it’s what I do.

I have added canned beans to dishes like spaghetti, goulash, soups, and scalloped potatoes and ham (I actually prefer this dish with red beans in it now). I may or may not add a whole can to any one of these. Having some already rinsed beans in the fridge may encourage you to spring for a quick bean addition to a dish that may leave you wondering How did I ever enjoy this dish legume-less?

Here’s another quick canned bean recipe: Hummus

2 to 3 cloves garlic

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained with liquid reserved

2 tbs smooth peanut butter

A handful of fresh parsley leaves

1 tsp lemon juice

Pinch of black pepper and salt

1/3 cup olive oil

Chop garlic in food processor. Add the beans and half of reserved liquid. Add peanut butter, parsley, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Process until it forms a paste. Drizzle in olive oil and process until it is the consistency of mayonnaise. Enjoy on a sandwich, or as a dip for veggies, pretzels, or pita bread.

Cooking with dried beans

Since dried beans are cheaper than canned beans, I am pretty much just a dried variety girl these days. I usually soak and cook a double or triple batch at a time so I can freeze extras to create a quick bean solution. Before soaking, it is important to do a quick look through your beans to make sure there are no small pebbles or other such debris mixed in. It doesn’t happen to me very often, but I do find something occasionally. You can also take out any beans that look shriveled or funny-shaped compared with the rest of the group.

Soaking (6-8 hours) and cooking (1 ½-2 hours) the beans is a time commitment, but they require little attention during this process so you can easily accomplish something else while the beans do their thing. I usually soak the beans overnight and cook the next day. It’s helpful to cook tomorrow’s beans while I make tonight’s dinner. By the time I am done eating and cleaning up the kitchen, I have cooked beans all set for the rest of the week (or more if I freeze extras). This does take some planning ahead, but that is where the pre-planned menu is a big help.

My family has found some of our favorite beans recipes on the Kitchen Stewardship blog at www.kitchenstewardship.com. Here you can even purchase The Everything Bean Book with lots more ideas to inspire you on your journey toward your personal bean goal.

Good luck!

by Manna-T from Heaven.