Monday, June 15, 2009

meatless mondays

pot of beans

we all know beans are so very good for us, so inexpensive, and much better for our environment then their alternatives.  they are the backbone to many tasty (and meatless) meals.  they can be intimidating though.  all that soaking and draining and cooking.  who has time?  now you may be a canned bean user, and that's ok.  it's still better than the alternative.  but you certainly aren't saving money and the amount of sodium in those puppies is astonishing.  the way to make beans a part of your everyday life (as recommended by many nutritionists) is to make them convenient.  

in the most recent book i've read, food matters, has transformed my view of food and eating.  now, i haven't transformed HOW i eat completely, but i am working toward it and my understanding has been greatly expanded.  i would highly recommend this book to anyone who eats.  seriously.  it's that good.  now on to today's post.  mark bittman says it is his mission to make sure every fridge or freezer in america is stocked with a container of home-cooked beans and the following recipe is his ammunition.  it is simple and requires very little attention.

1 pound dried beans (any kind but lentils, split peas, or peeled and split beans) washed
salt and freshly ground pepper

1.  put the beans in a large pot with a tightly fitting lid and cover with cold water by a couple of inches.  bring the pot to a boil and let it boil, uncovered, for about 2 minutes.  cover the pot and turn the heat off.  let the beans soak for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours.
2. taste a bean.  if it's at all tender (it won't be ready), add a large pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper.  make sure the beans are covered with about an inch of water; add a little more if necessary.  if the beans are still hard, don't add salt yet, and cover with about 2 inches of water.
3. bring the pot to a boil, then adjust the heat so that the beans bubble gently.  partially cover and cook, stirring every now and then, checking the beans for doneness every 10-15 minutes, and adding more water if necessary, a little at a time.  small beans will take as 30 minutes more; older, large beans can take up to an hour or more.  if you haven't added salt and pepper yet, add them when the beans are just turning tender.  stop cooking when the beans are done the way you like them and taste and adjust the seasoning.
4. here you have a few options.  drain the beans to use them as an ingredient in salads or other dishes where they need to be dry.  or store the beans as is and use with or without liquid as needed to serve over rice.  they'll keep in the fridge for days, and in the freezer for months.

what do you like to use beans for?


Tonya said...

We like beans with ham, and corn bread! But I also like mexican dishes with beans in them!! :)

Heather said...

One more glimmer of hope in my sad sad cooking world...never thought of cooking and FREEZING them!! Just as convenient as canned!

tamar said...

try the book The Forever Feast by Dr. Paul Brand