How To: Cooking Dried Beans

standard March 25, 2015 Leave a response

Cooking dried beans can be a little intimidating. The first time I tried to do it was just for fun, and I definitely had a few trial and error moments figuring it out. I now see it as a methodical, tranquil, everyday process. It’s cost-effective; you can get about four pints of beans from one cup dried. It’s convenient; you always have them on hand for a last-minute recipe. And it’s calming; the process of making them is simple, hands-off, and empowering.

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1. Soaking. Soak 1 c dried beans with at least 1 c filtered water overnight. The beans will absorb the water and plump up, so make sure you put them in a container that is only half-full to start.

2. Rinsing. Before you cook the soaked beans, rinse them in a colander under cool water to remove all the dirt, grime, and gaseous sugars from that have leaked out.

3. Cooking. Place beans in a medium stockpot and fill the pot about halfway with fresh water. You want enough for the beans to be submerged by at least an inch or two. Then the weird step: add a small piece of dried kombu to the pot (about an inch or two in length). The kombu will soften and will help to alleviate the gassy factor commonly associated with cooked beans. Heat the beans to a simmer and let cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a little water if the beans absorb too much; you want them to be submerged at all times. Once beans are cooked, remove from heat and let cool in the stockpot. (Note: Most varieties of beans will cook fairly quickly; chickpeas, however, usually need up to double the amount of time to fully cook).

4. Storing. When the beans are cool enough to handle, remove the kombu and discard. Ladle spoonfuls into freezer-safe pint-sized mason jars until 2/3 full. Once all beans are evenly distributed among the jars (you will need 3-4), fill them until submerged with the cooking water. Let cool without the lids in the refrigerator until completely cold. Screw lids on tightly and store in freezer until use.

5. Eating. When you’re ready to use the beans, let thaw in refrigerator or run the jar under cool water until thawed. Rinse well to remove the cooking water and any leftover kombu pieces. Use just like you would canned beans.

Easy, peasy. Yes, there is a little bit of time involved, but it’s fairly hands off. You can also cook larger batches in the slow cooker if preferred. I like to keep a couple different varieties of beans on hand, and my freezer is only so big, so I usually cook smaller batches at a time and cook two types at once (in separate pots). I’ve never had any issues with a batch not cooking perfectly using this method, and I’ve not had any digestive issues either, especially since adding the kombu. Don’t skip it!

Comfort Chowder

standard October 20, 2012 Leave a response

I just ran my first (of many more to come) torturous long run on a hotel treadmill while traveling for work. I’ve decided that fancy hotels are NOT marathon training friendly. No in-room coffee maker for my oatmeal, super fancy gyms with weird treadmills, and worst of all, room service doesn’t start until 5:00. Considering I didn’t eat lunch, I think my stomach might implode if the post-run chills don’t get me first. What I would give for a warm bowl of this chowder right now.

Along with the root vegetables I received last week, I also got a ton of corn and red potatoes. Corn in October seemed strange to me, since I’ve always associated it with summer, cook outs, and salsa. However, the potatoes turned me towards soup (can you tell I’ve had soup on the brain?) and I realized I had to make a vegan variation of my mother’s amazing corn chowder. After hunting for the recipe to no avail, I decided to make things up as I went along and see what happened.

This recipe is super easy and quick to prepare. I made it ahead of time one Sunday afternoon so it would be ready to eat when we got home from our life group. You could also easily double it and let it simmer away in a slow cooker.

Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder

Serves 3-4.

Print-Friendly Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 ears of corn, cooked and removed from the cob (or 2 c frozen corn, thawed)
  • 1 1/4 c cannellini beans
  • 2 c vegetable stock
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 small shallot or green onion
  • 2 red new potatoes
  • 1/2 t garlic and herb seasoning
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper

Steps:

  1. Place half of the corn, 1/2 c vegetable stock, and all the beans into a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallot and saute for 2 minutes. Add potatoes, remaining corn, and bean mixture. Mix in seasoning and stir to combine.
  3. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  4. Garnish with green onions and a little parsley, if desired, and serve.

The beans add protein and creaminess to replace the milk and cream, while the corn keeps it sweet and a touch of pepper balances it all out. I think I might like this version even better than the original!

Burrito in a Bowl

standard July 1, 2012 Leave a response

Chipotle’s burrito bowls are my go to fast food fix. One day trips to Dallas and back or late flights home from a week-long show mean a stop at Chipotle to pick up dinner. Recreating my favorite veggie fajita bowl does not taste  exactly the same, but it’s pretty darn close, considering the home-made version also has less sodium and oil.

Fajita Veggie Burrito Bowl

Serves 2.

Print-Friendly Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c brown rice
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried cilantro, divided
  • 1/2 c frozen corn
  • 1 c black beans
  • 2 Southwest Lentil Burgers (optional)
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 c shredded lettuce
  • salsa and guacamole, to serve

Steps:

  1. Bring rice and 2 c water to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
  2. Once cooked, squeeze juice of half a lime into the pan. Add 1 tsp cilantro, and fluff with a fork to combine. (This will make leftovers.)
  3. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, pepper, onion, cumin, and paprika. Saute until seared, but still tender, about 5 minutes. Add corn and toss to combine and heat through.
  4. Spoon 1/3 c rice into a bowl. Crumble a lentil burger on top of rice, if using. Top with beans, veggie mixture, and condiments of choice. Finish with shredded lettuce.

This doesn’t feel much like a recipe – it’s more layering ingredients, but it does make a darn close, tasty alternative to take out. 🙂