Beans, beans, beans. . . the humble and amazing dry bean that is showing up in more and more farmers markets and in CSA shares. I’m a devoted bean cook and consumer, considering them my “fast food” as I cook them in quantity and then freeze them in their cooking liquid for future use. They are notably tastier and cheaper than canned beans and once you get in the habit, really simple to prepare. And since the dry beans you will find at the market or in your CSA are rarely more than a year or two old, they will cook quickly and evenly. You will likely encounter pinto, borlotti (cranberry-like), black and a variety of white beans in the markets and CSAs with some farmers growing a much greater variety of beans.
Beans are a staple the world over and are made into or used in every imaginable dish, from baked beans to bean and peanut stews in some African countries to Italian Ribollita or Pasta e Fagioli to Brazilian Feijoada to Cassoulet and Cuban Black Bean stew and Indian Dals. And of course when cooked from scratch with just a clove or garlic and bay leaf they are the perfect base for a hearty salad, soup, chili, taco, etc. Quick, nutritious and delicious.
I tend to soak and then cook my beans though I sometimes cook them without soaking, slowly, in the oven with delicious results as well. The links below offer many tips and recipes for preparing your dry beans.
Beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber as well as protein, complex carbohydrates, folate and iron.
Ingredients that are particularly suited to dry beans:
*This list could be a mile long so I’m just selecting a few favorite ingredients here.
- Bay leaves, sage, rosemary
- Onions of all kinds
- Leafy greens (fresh and cooked)
- Parsley, thyme, cilantro, basil, chives
- Good olive oil
- Bacon, ham hock or other pork products
- Corn, corn meal, hominy (pozole)
- Hard cheeses
Dishes that include beans: