Cool Beans

5 Mar

If there’s one thing we love as a society, it’s getting more for less.  That’s how I roll when it comes to beans.  Some food preparations of the not-so-distant past seem daunting to us.  Cooking your own beans from the dried form is one of these processes – and it isn’t as hard as it seems!  I have started cooking my own dried black beans, and now that I’m on this vegan kick I feel it’s time to share my enthusiasm for my old style food prep.

Black beans are my fave.  Not only are they delicious, did you know they have the most antioxidants of any legume?  In case you didn’t know, antioxidants do important things for our bodies.  They help our cells stay healthy and function well.  They prevent diseases.  If you’re worried about embarrassing gases, don’t fear!  I’ll fill you in on tactics to prevent “…the more you toot” part of that song.  If you’re sensitive to soy there are many other nutritious legume substitutes that, in combo with other foods (like rice and veg) give you all the amino acid/protein and other vitamins you need when you aren’t eating animal products. What’s not to love?

Now that I’ve convinced you that beans are cool, I will tell you how I cook them.

First, it’s important to soak the beans.  I put about 2-3 cups in a big glass bowl and cover it with fresh water – just fill the bowl right up.  The tricky part is remembering to do this the night before you plan on cooking the beans (or in the morning if you’re cooking ’em at night).  Let the beans soak for 8 – 12 hours.  That’s really the hardest part.  Just be patient, ya’ll.  A watched bean pool never boils, or something like that.

After the beans are good and soaked, the water will look all ugly, and almost black.

Next, drain and rinse those babies.  The rinsing is key to getting rid of the gas-y stuff.  Throw the beans in a big ol’ pot and cover with fresh water.  They need some room.

Boil the beans for 60-90 min. depending on how soft you want them.  I boiled mine for too long because I was talking to my mom on the phone (multi-tasking!), but that’s okay because I needed soft beans.

1-Cool Beans

When they’re done, drain and rinse again (for even less toot).  And now you’re done!  You’ll have like 10 times the beans you would’ve gotten in that little can, for maybe twice the price.  You can freeze the beans and then just throw them in soups or chilies when the mood strikes.  The fresh beans can be used as is in salads or tossed into anything from pastas to the blender for bean dip!  The best part is that now you have so many more beans for so little money, a lot of inactive wait time, and really not very much actual active cooking time.

I made re-fried beans with a bunch of mine and turned them into burritos with veggies I had kicking around in the fridge (including some leftover roasted potatoes).

Here’s a recipe for re-fried beans you can try that is very flexible to your tastes.  Just add or take away spices to your mouth’s content.  🙂

Simple Re-fried Beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 smallish onion (diced)
1/2 tsp each cumin, chill powder, and coriander
1-2 cloves garlie (minced or pressed)
cayenne pepper or chilli flakes (or both!), optional or to taste – start with 1/4 tsp
2 cups cooked black beans (can sub pinto beans)
3-4 tbsp of veg stock for added flavour and moisture
 1tsp salt
squeeze of lemon or lime (optional, but recommended)

Method
Heat the oil in a pot or skillet.  Add the onion and the first 3 spices and cook until onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and the other spice if using.  Cook for 1 min-ish.

Add beans, stock, and salt and cook until heated.  Use a slotted spoon or other utensil to help smash the beans as they’re cooking.

When they are heated, mash some more or blend for smooth beans.  You can add the citrus now if you like.  You might need to heat it up again but I’m not bothered.

Serve with nacho chips and salsa, use in taco salad, or make a burrito and enjoy!

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3 Responses to “Cool Beans”

  1. Kristen March 5, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    Yay! I’ve made beans “the old fashioned way” too! I agree that the hardest part is just having the forethought to put them to soak the night before. If you need beans NOW, you can also put them in a pot with water, bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and cover – let stand for like an hour (the “quick soak” method). Then drain, rinse, put ’em back in the pot with more water and cook! I learned this from a handy little tear-off sheet of paper in the bean section at bulk barn!

    Also, one of my favourite black bean recipes is actually Gwyneth Paltrow’s veggie burgers – http://www.thestar.com/life/food_wine/recipes/2011/06/29/gwyneths_veggie_burgers.html
    Very tasty, as long as you can deal with cilantro! Note that these do not freeze well, it turns out though! 🙂

    • sarahsmonthofvegan March 5, 2013 at 11:13 am #

      Awesome- thanks for the tips! I knew about the quick-soak method but haven’t tried it yet. And I’d love to try the black bean burgers. I’m not a fan of cilantro (tastes like soap to me) but I would sub parsley and I’m on my way. 🙂

  2. cdnpoetry March 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Good Job Sarah! Looks very tasty and now I know how to soak beans. It’s been years since I did any of that and it’s good to get back to some of the older ways of cooking. Certainly healthier than anything in a can, that’s for sure. (sorry to keep you on the phone, glad the beans didn’t go mushy on you) 🙂

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