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March 03, 2008

Monday's Pot o' Beans

On a completely different note, do you have recommendations on how to cook dried beans so that they taste good? :) --Carole

Carole, who obviously knows her way around a kitchen already, asked about the wonderful, marvelous, nutrient-rich (and cheap! unless you live in Ukraine) legume.

It's Monday, and we have a New Orleans carry-over tradition of Red Beans and Rice on Mondays. Only, now it's morphed into any kind of bean on Mondays. (Once upon a time, I also did laundry on Mondays, as tradition dictates. . . now I'm just thankful whenever it gets done. . .)

Red Beans and Rice is still my favorite. It's comfort food and totally divine when served with hot buttered French bread. Hubby prefers Cuban Black Bean soup with a dollop of sour cream.

While those are our most common bean-based meals, it's good to have a range of recipes to try. Most of these recipes can be modified easily for the vegan and vegetarian amongst us. However, I've found that cooking beans with just a little bit of meat makes it yummier.

I usually make a full pot of beans or a double batch, and freeze the leftovers in smallish ziplock bags. Lots of recipes call for canned black beans--having your own in your freezer is quick and inexpensive, and doesn't have the metallic taste some canned beans have. (I do the same with brown rice--DIY convenience foods.)

The Bean Report is a good resource for info on cooking beans and minimizing their oftimes unpleasant side effects. One other thing I find important is not to salt the beans until after they are cooked.

Sooooo. . .

What other bean recipes should Carole and I try?


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You would not believe how much of these refried beans my family consumes. I simplify it a bit, and season it with only garlic salt and cumin. I think the butter is the key. Yum.

We also love this recipe for Taco Style Lentils & Rice. It's easy, quick, and so tasty that my hubby doesn't even mind not having meat.

One little tip about beans...I like the bean broth (is that what it's called in beans?) to be very thick, just like my grandma's used to be. I never could get it right until recently. Now I keep the lid on the beans until the beans are soft and then remove the lid and simmer for another hour (or two? I never really time it). Give it a stir every now and then, and the broth will thicken up. Oh yeah, and only add boiling water to the beans if you are starting to run low.

Posted by: Missy at March 3, 2008 11:34 PM


Try this one! Yummy.

Posted by: Gina at March 4, 2008 08:26 AM

Hello. Thanks for the very quick response! I'd seen your other posts on legumes :) and have tried to use dried beans instead of canned, but mine always seem to turn out gross tasting. They seem starchy and dry and not soft and tender like the canned beans are. Anyhow, I am going to print out that bean cooking chart and keep on trying. What I've tried so far is just soaking the beans overnight in cold water and then slowly cooking them. Does that seem like it would yield bad results?

Posted by: Carole at March 4, 2008 12:43 PM

Sometimes beans can just be old and not ever get soft. Missy's tip helps get them softer and have a thicker gravy. The last time I made RB&R, the red beans were too soft, imo. (I ended up soaking them 24 hours or so, though. . . Changing the water from time to time. . . And they simmered on low all day.)

Soooo. . . maybe check the date on the bag? Soak a little longer? Put them on to simmer right after breakfast?

(Btw, I know you cook a lot with your little one. . . My boys help me cut onions, garlic and green peppers for our last batch, as well as stirred it throughout the day when I was gone. Those can be cut with a butter knife, if you start it. That's one of the reasons it simmered all day. I planned for it to be for lunch, but as much as Hubby is great in the kitchen, I didn't realize that he just doesn't "do" rice. So they waited for me to get home to make rice for dinner. Ah, well. . .)

Posted by: TulipGirl at March 4, 2008 11:29 PM

I've made your red beans and rice several times; both my husband and I really like it, especially with Vigo (name brand) yellow rice. For calorie reasons I (especially) don't need the bread with lots of butter!
I also have a black bean and chicken chili recipe, and one for lentil chili which can be made with or without hamburger.
Ooh - I'm making myself hungry.

Posted by: FLGrandma at March 5, 2008 11:56 AM

I'd love the lentil chili recipe! I make an easy lentil soup recipe (love that they don't need to be soaked) that the boys and Hubby like. The boys alternate between calling it "Lentil Soup Johnson" after LBJ and "Orc Slops" after LOTR.

Maybe some wouldn't like their carefully prepared meals being called "Orc Slops"--but as long as it is feeding their imaginations and bodies, it doesn't bother me!

Posted by: TulipGirl at March 5, 2008 01:30 PM

My husband refuses to eat any and all beans. Something about the texture (which I consider beany goodness) gets to him--how terrible is that!

Posted by: skerrib at March 5, 2008 07:23 PM

Texture? That's a hard one to work with. Hubby grew up in a meat-and-potatoes family, so we both have made accommodations to the other in food and meals. That's one of the reasons I almost always put SOME meat in bean recipes. It's more a "meal" to Hubby if it has meat. Though, he's not really hard to please. "Hot and plentiful" are his two requests. *grin*

Posted by: TulipGirl at March 5, 2008 08:08 PM

Hot and plentiful?! That's hilarious. Will have to share that with my husband. :)

Posted by: Carole at March 7, 2008 10:14 AM

Thanks for all the recipes. I grew up on beans (not very creatively cooked either, ever), hated them as a kid, love them now though. Here's one of my family's favorites: White Chicken Chili

I checked out the white bean chili you linked, on your bean post linked from the "range of recipes" link, and will have to try adding in the green chilies to my recipe, sounds good.

We love black beans too.

As I mention in my recipe, I always try and cook some seaweed with my beans, to add in lots of minerals to the broth, as well as cut down on the gaseousness (so I was told anyways).

Posted by: beth at March 7, 2008 02:04 PM

Thank you for adding to my list of possible bean recipes, Tulipgirl! After doing an Easter ham yesterday, I have plenty of leftovers to use for bean recipes. I'm going to start with a ham and lentil soup this week, but I've bookmarked your bean recipe page so that I can try red beans and rice after that. Thank you! :-)

Posted by: Karen at March 24, 2008 09:12 AM

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