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 overnight, 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 this is a problem for you, there are a number of digestive products on the market that work wonderfully.)
You will find a wide 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:
- Cost! 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.
- Health. There is just so much sodium in canned beans that I try to stay away from them.
- Taste and Texture. I also prefer the texture of scratch beans better than canned.
Using canned or dried 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, then perhaps opening a can is more efficient and convenient. If 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. Big tip: do not put any salt in the pot with the beans as they cook 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.
Homemade 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
This recipe can be used for all varieties of dry beans.
Mix water, beans and onion in heavy saucepan. 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 are 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
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
*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
Easy 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 saute for 5 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and saute 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 pimento
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. Saute 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, delicious and so healthy! Happy National Bean Day!