How to soak, cook and freeze dried red kidney beans

I work a 9-5 type of job so Saturday & Sunday are my days off and I tend to use them for food prep.  This includes the soaking and cooking of dried beans which tend to take more time than I have to spend on dinner on any given week day.  I like to buy more beans than are called for in whatever recipe I’m tackling, cook them all, and freeze the unused portion for another meal the following week.  This way I get twice the bang for my single buck of time.

For kidney beans I buy about a pound of dried beans, put them in a container twice as big as the bean content, cover them with water, put the lid on, and pop them in the fridge overnight.  When it’s time to cook, strain the beans out of the soaking water (as it has oligosaccharides in it which were released by the beans during soaking and can lead to digestive discomfort).  Place the strained beans into a pan at least twice the volume of the beans and add about ten cups of water.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and put on a timer for 40 minutes.  At that point try one bean for doneness.  If there’s still a tiny bit of crunch to it, let them continue to cook for a minute or two (or five- whatever it takes).

When the beans are cooked to my liking I shut the heat off and add about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, give them a stir, and let them sit for just a couple more minutes to absorb some of that flavor.  Next, strain out the cooking water (make sure to check your recipe to see if you need to reserve that flavorful H2O) and place the cooked beans in storage containers in the fridge or freezer.  This method results in a firm (I hate mushy beans!) bean with a hint of salt that is great in soups or stews or even just to snack on.

If you are going to eat the beans as a side dish where they are the star of the show, rather than in a soup or stew where there are lots of other flavors coming together, consider cooking them in stock rather than in water.

Socca

While flipping through my most recent edition of National Geographic Traveler I came across this 1-page article on Socca (chickpea flour crepes).  Seeing as the picture indicated that this Socca (which I had never heard of before) was a food, I decided to read on.  The ingredient list was simple: chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt.  The intent seemed ideal: to be in rough shards, eaten with your fingers.  How could I go wrong?  So I tried it.

The batter is fairly thin- much like crepe.

Socca batter

Socca batter

There are several options for cooking these- under a broiler (in a fry pan), on a very hot baking stone, stove top.  I opted to make my first three on a baking stone, preheated in a 500 degree oven, and the last in a cast iron pan so that I could see the difference.

Broiled socca: crispy edges and nicely cooked center

Broiled socca: crispy edges and nicely cooked center

I served these as a gluten-free flatbread type of side to lemon-pepper chicken and green salads topped with crispy-fried mushrooms, roasted red peppers and cheddar cheese.

Socca makes a great app or accompaniment

Socca makes a great app or accompaniment

Ingredients:

2 cups chickpea flour
2 cups water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt (or more if you really want to taste it)

Directions:

  • Whisk together the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, garlic, thyme, and salt. Let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours
  • Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone in it
  • Give the batter a quick whisk and ladle a quarter of it into the skillet
  • Switch the oven to Broil and let it go for 5-10 minutes, until the top is browned and the socca is cooked in the middle (yet still tender) and crispy around the edges. Use a spatula to remove it from the stone
  • Repeat to make the additional flatbreads
Socca- ready for cutting

Socca- ready for cutting

Spinach, Red Lentil, and Green Bean Curry

If you’re in the market for a warm vegetable stew with luscious spices which will reheat well, then I’ve got a dish for you. This is a very mild curry (which you could heat up with some cayanne and/or crushed red pepper if that’s your preference) and it has notes of cinnamon from the garam masala. If that’s not your thing, you could use your favorite pre-made curry spice mixture rather than what’s listed here. This dish can easily stand on its own as a vegetarian main, or be served alongside some lovely spiced yogurt chicken (as Neil and I had it).

Ingredients:

 

1 cup red lentils

1/4 cup tomato puree

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground dried turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths

1 cup mushrooms, sliced thickly

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, grated

4 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped

1 (15.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

 

Directions:

 

  • Rinse the lentils well and place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Drain and set aside
  • In a bowl, stir together the tomato puree and yogurt. Season with garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and chile powder
  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat
  • Add the onion, green beans and mushrooms; cooking until the onion begins to brown
  • Add in the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute- until you really begin to smell them
  • Stir in the spinach; cook until it’s dark green and wilted
  • Add the yogurt mixture and stir until incorporated
  • Mix in the tomatoes and cilantro
  • Stir the lentils and garbanzo beans into mixture until well combined and heated through, about 5 minutes
Curry

The inspiration for this dish came from this recipe.

My take on huevos rancheros

So this isn’t a recipe, but it is what I ate for lunch today.  It’s low in fat, high in protein and omega 3s, and damned tasty!  I was preparing pureed Lima beans for the work week to have for snacks so I used that as my base.  I dropped on a poached egg, and topped the concoction with a couple spoonfuls of salsa, and dug in.  Wow!  what flavor.

Mushroom, White Bean and Collard Green Stew

Do you typically avoid vegetarian recipes because you assume that they will be bland, possibly lacking in protein, and just not your favorite type of fare?  Many folks do.  I would like to change your mind with this recipe.  It is flavorful,  hearty, colorful, packed with protein (17 grams per serving),  low in saturated fat, and just fantastic.  Tender mushrooms, creamy white beans, crunchy collards, a sweet and earthy base- I just can’t say enough wonderful things about this dish.  Try it- you’ll like it 😉

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided

1 large white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup Marsala

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 teaspoons dried rosemary

1 tablespoon dried thyme

12 ounces fresh mushrooms (I used 6oz. of button and 6oz. of Portobello) trimmed and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons tamari

2 tablespoons whole spelt flour

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 (15oz.) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch collard greens, tough stems removed and leaves thinly sliced

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Bring a soup pot up to temp over a medium heat and add the olive oil
  • Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until you see the blaring white color begin to diminish
  • Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary & thyme and sauté for another 2 minutes (you will begin to really smell the herbs)
  • Add 1/2 cup broth and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions are all tender
  • Stir in the Marsala, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook about 2 minutes or until the wine evaporates
  • Add the mushrooms and reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to get tender, stirring once
  • Stir in remaining 1 3/4 cups broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat
  • While that’s warming up, in a small bowl whisk together tamari, flour, nutritional yeast and 1/4 cup of hot broth to make a thick paste
  • Whisk (do not attempt to stir with a spoon no matter how good you think you are as you will end up with lumps which will cook into dumplings- trust me) the paste into the simmering broth mixture, stirring constantly
  • Bring the stew back to a simmer and cook for a minute, whisking constantly
  • Stir in the beans and greens, cover and cook for 5 minutes
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve

We chose to have our stew with a nice loaf of French country bread baked by El Jardin and purchased at the Northampton Tuesday Market (which is still on through next week).  A sourdough loaf with whole grains and toasted sesame seeds on top.

This recipe was adapted from one by Whole Foods Market.