Sunday, April 17, 2011

dried beans

I've been eating more healthily recently which mostly means eating less. Less bread, fewer treats, less wine and so on. I've always liked beans but wouldn't have said they were a staple in my diet. But that's changing. I've finally figured out some ways to cook them that my wife likes so we're eating beans a few times a week. You can imagine the excitement I had (or can you?) when I came across a goldmine of heirloom dried beans at the farmer's market last week.

Generally I don't go for the shabby chic display, but this odd assortment of old pots, colanders and bowls was just right. The ladies selling the beans had written wonderful descriptions of each variety and instructions for preparing them as well as recommendations for what to eat them with. Basically, it was perfect. We tried tiny pinquinitos last week and I'm soaking some sangue de toro right now for tonight's supper. Don't know how to cook beans? It's super easy.

1) Quickly sort beans to make sure there are no small stones. Start with a cup or 2 of dried beans-they really grow.
2) Cover with cold water, beans expand so it should be about 3 inches above the beans. Add 1 tsp. salt.
3) Allow to sit for about 8 hours. I put them in water right before I leave for work and cook them when I get home.
4) Pour off the fart water. You read it right.
5) Place beans and fresh cold water in a pot. Again cover with at least 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Cooking time varies due to beans size and how long they have been dried. Generally 45 min to an hour is good.
6) I like to saute a little chopped onion and garlic, pour in a can of whole tomatoes squashed with my hands and then the cooked beans and a good amount of salt-maybe 2 tsp. Simmer for a few minutes, add a large handful of spinach and maybe some fresh herbs. If you are really going for it, some bread crumbs and grated gruyere sprinkled over the top and 10 minutes in a very hot oven will make you very happy. If not, forget I ever mentioned cheese. You will still enjoy your dinner.

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