Beans, Beans, Beans

As a child, I remember all the teasing that went on with the cute little jingle “Beans, beans, the musical fr87635903uit… the more you eat, the more you…” (You can probably guess the rest). If you’re not familiar with that one, you may remember another such rhyme as “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart…the more you eat, the more you…” Well, you get it. They still make me chuckle!
If you have never enjoyed a good fresh pot of homemade beans, you are really missing out.  When my chili pepper addiction expanded to cooking dishes for myself I was introduced to real refried beans.  To my surprise I learned that there is no real benefit to soaking your bean.
It is absolutely unnecessary and actually, not wise. There is a myth that soaking the beans removes the gasses. Untrue! When you soak your beans over night, the natural sugars begin to ferment, thereby producing more gas. In general people who have very high fiber content in their diets are not bothered with bean gas. Beans are very high in fiber and when they enter the digestive tract of people who eat very little fiber, they naturally start things moving and the result is – GAS!  If gas is a question there are a number of digestive products on the market that work wonderfully.
060314_5365_0212You will find a variety of recipes that use beans. For most of them you may use canned or start from scratch beans. To me the advantages of cook from scratch beans are, first the expense, particularly if you use a lot of beans. Most types of dry beans cost less than a dollar a pound and remember, you will get nearly double their volume in product once they are cooked. Also, there is just so much sodium in canned beans that I try to stay away from them. I also prefer the texture of from scratch beans better than canned.  Also, using canned or from scratch beans will greatly depend on what you are using them for. If for example, you simply want to put a few beans in a salad or a burrito, and then perhaps opening a can is more efficient and convenient, if however you are planning a meal based around beans or a bean dish, it is probably a good idea to cook your beans from scratch. Just remember the ratio of dry to cooked is they double in volume, ½-cup dry becomes 1-cup cooked.  Now, do not put any salt in the pot with the beans because it tends to make them tough. Salt them after the fact. You can however add garlic, onion, bay and other herbs and seasonings to the pot.

Refried Beans
½ cup vegetable oil
2 cups cooked Pinto Beans (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat lard in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until hot. Add Pinto Beans; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Mash beans; stir in chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add more oil to skillet if necessary; cook and stir until a smooth paste forms, about 5 minutes. Garnish with shredded cheese if desired.
Yield: 4 servings

Pinto Beans
This recipe can be used for all varieties of dry beans.

4 cups water
1 pound dried beans (about 2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
1 slice bacon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin seed

Mix water, beans and onion in heavy sauce pan. Cover and heat to boiling; boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 1 hour. Add just enough water to beans to cover. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until beans is very tender, about 2 hours. (Add water during cooking if necessary.) Drain; reserve broth for recipes calling for bean broth. Cover and refrigerate beans and broth separately; use within 10 days.

Crock Pot Lentil Soup
1 pound lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped, with liquid
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 large carrots, sliced
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground marjoram
1/8 teaspoon leaf sage, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

Place all ingredients, except the cheese, in the slow cooker and cook on the HIGH setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the cheese until it is melted. Serve hot, topped with more cheese, if desired.
Makes 8 to 10 servings

Inside Out Chili
Vary the heat by adding or subtracting the amount and/or variety of hot peppers.
1 to 2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 to 1 cup chopped onions, optional
2 cans white beans chili hot beans
2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained
2 cans pinto beans, drained
2 cans kidney beans, drained
2 cans Rotel© tomatoes (approx. 10 1/2 ounces each)
1 package chili seasoning
2 jalapeno chili peppers*, seeded and chopped

Hint:
*When working with hot peppers, wear rubber gloves to keep your hands from burning from handling the peppers.

Brown ground beef with chopped onion; drain well. Put all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours.
Makes 12 to 16 servings

Black Bean Soup with Lobster
1 can black bean soup
1 can tomato soup
1 can milk
1 can water
1 pkg. frozen lobster
Sherry and lemon juice to taste

Cook lobster and cut into bite size pieces. Then combine with other ingredients and simmer until heated through.

Tuscan Style Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped red bell pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup kidney beans
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1 cup seashell pasta
ground black pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium high heat, combine the oil, onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the red bell pepper and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the thyme, spinach and pasta. Simmer for 5 more minutes and pepper to taste.

Marinated Balsamic Bean Salad
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
1 cup frozen cut green beans
1 (16-oz) can kidney beans
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 (15-oz) can black beans
1 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves minced garlic

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a colander; rinse and drain. Combine onion and remaining ingredients in a bowl; add corn and beans, tossing gently to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with a slotted spoon.
Makes 6 servings

Baked Lima Beans
6 cups frozen lima beans, thawed
6 pears, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 onion chopped

Place all ingredients in a heavy casserole dish, cover and bake for 12 hours
at 200 degrees or a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Makes 10 servings

Quick and Easy Red Beans and Rice
2 cans red kidney beans, (15 ounces each)
3 slices bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 small bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onions, with tops
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 jar (2 oz) chopped pimiento
1 can (8 oz) tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pound Polish sausage, sliced, if desired

Fry bacon and crumble into kidney beans. Sauté vegetables in bacon drippings, cook until vegetables are wilted. Add beans and remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve over rice.
Makes 4 Servings

Don’t be afraid of cooking with beans.  They are inexpensive and healthy for your heart.

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.