Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Using Dried Beans and Recipe for Navy Beans (GF and V)

I found a bag of dried white beans as I was rummaging through the pantry yesterday.  I was actually looking for hidden chocolate that we might have forgotten, but I found beans instead. Sounds disappointing, but turned out to be a really good, comfort food kind of supper.

I could eat beans and rice every day.  I love them. And there are so many varieties. Choose a bean and then pick a type of seasoning.  The same ol' beans and rice turn into a brand new dish.

Back beans--add in Citrus or Mexican seasonings
Red beans--add in Chili, Cajun or BBQ seasoning
White beans--add in Italian seasoning
Mixed beans--go crazy!

If you haven't used dried beans before, I would really recommend giving it a try.  I use canned beans all the time because it's quick and easy.  But dried beans really have a great texture and better flavor.  And you can control the sodium content much better.  Dried beans are cheap and easy.  Give it a try.

I'll give you a few hints and notes on dried beans. Some beans require soaking, others do not.  This is a general idea as to how to cook most any dried bean.  Then use them however you like.  My recipe for Navy Beans and Rice is below.  We had a simple supper of rice and beans (in a bowl) with freshly chopped veggies on the side.

1.  Dried beans expand by about 2.5 times when cooked.  So 1 cup of dried equals about 2.5 cups cooked.  

2.  Be sure to look through your dried beans and pull out any that look suspicious (way off color or shape) and double check there's no stones or other natural debris in your beans.  Rinse them a few times and look through them before placing in a bowl to soak.

3.  Soaking dried beans overnight helps to eliminate some of that unwanted "gas factor" often experienced with beans.

4.  Place cleaned beans in a large bowl covered with a lot of cold water (use about 3-4 cups of water for every cup of beans).  Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight (at least--can be left for a couple days if you want).  NOT ALL DRIED BEANS NEED SOAKING.  So just check the bag when you buy them to see if they need it or not.

5.  After soaking, rinse and drain your beans again a few times until the water off of them is clear.

6.  DO NOT ADD SALT until your beans are done cooking.  The salt prevents the beans from soaking up the water and they won't cook as well.  Cook and then season.

7.  Place the beans in a large pot, cover with broth or water and cook on a low boil/simmer for 60-90 minutes or until desired consistency.  Some beans are bigger and require more time, some are smaller and cook faster. I like my beans with a little texture to them, so I go a shorter time.  If you like them softer, cook a little longer.  Just bite into one and see how they are.

8.  Some beans will have a foam on the top of the water while cooking.  Skim it off or it will boil over and make a mess.

9.  Cooked beans freeze well.  Drain and put in baggies making sure to eliminate any extra air.

1 lb. dried white beans
6 cups water and/or veggie broth
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
Crushed red pepper (optional) to taste

Clean, rinse and soak beans overnight as directed on package.  Rinse and drain.  Place beans in large soup pot and cover with water/broth mixture.  Add in onion, garlic, bay leaf and Italian seasoning.  Simmer uncovered about 90 minutes until beans are desired consistency.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed, so the beans and broth will end up the consistency of stew.  If it is thickening too quickly, add in water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Squeeze in fresh lemon juice and stir in parsley.  Serve over brown or white rice.   

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