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mar 24, 2020

Got Beans? (Part I: Dried Beans)

Beans...it seems like everyone stocked up on them when this all started to go down. Perhaps you did, without knowing what you'd do with them. Perhaps you've never even cooked with beans before.
Well, having beans around is a great idea. They are amazing little things...packed full of protein, fiber, and vitamins. And with a little coaxing (overnight soaking for the dried ones, drain and rinse for the canned) and the addition of some herbs, spices and other ingredients, they make a wide variety of delicious dishes.
Our wonderful teacher Chef Frances Wilson has spent some of her Shelter In Place time writing up helpful information for us all. First up is a Beans 101, to get you familiar with using dried beans. In our next post, Frances shares more recipes & ideas, focusing on canned - or already cooked - beans.
Email us at info@civickitchensf.com if you have any questions. We're here to help.
Recipe

Dried Beans 101

Author Frances Wilson

Soaking dried beans overnight speeds up the cooking. Always pick through them before soaking to remove any small stones or moldy beans. Cover them with cold water to 2 inches above the surface of the beans, and stir in 2 tablespoons of kosher salt per pound of beans before soaking. Drain and rinse before you start cooking.

Yield   About 3 cups cooked beans

Ingredients

1 lb dried beans, soaked overnight in salted water, then rinsed & drained*

1 large peeled onion, left whole

1 medium carrot, peeled and left whole

½ head of garlic (halved crosswise), wrapped in cheesecloth

4 thyme sprigs and/or a few parsley stems tied together with kitchen twine

1 bay leaf

2 dried chiles de árbol or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Optional additions: small head of fennel, slice of bacon or ham hock, a few dried porcini mushrooms


For serving:

¼ cup or more good quality olive oil

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Cooking the beans:
Bring the beans, onion, carrot, garlic, thyme or parsley, bay leaf, chiles, and 8 cups water to a simmer in a Dutch oven or other large pot with lid, over medium heat.
Reduce the heat, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer until the beans are creamy all the way through, 50-65 minutes. Alternatively, cover & cook them in a 350ºF oven. The cooking time will vary according to the size and age of the beans. (To speed things up, use a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. If you do, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the cooking liquid to prevent foaming.)
Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and discard. Remove the vegetables, chop them roughly, and return them to the beans in the pot. Fish the head of garlic out and allow it to cool. Then squeeze the garlic through the cheesecloth into the beans. Season generously with salt.
Serve at room temperature or chilled, topped with freshly ground black pepper and a generous drizzle of oil.
*No time to soak overnight? See options below:
To quick-soak beans: Cover them with cold water, bring to a boil, turn them off, and let them sit for 1 hour before cooking as described above.
To cook directly from dried: Follow the recipe above, noting that the beans will need more water and will take much longer to cook. A pressure cooker or Instant Pot can speed up this process – for example, cannellini beans will cook in a pressure cooker in 30-35 minutes from dry, vs. 6-9 minutes if you've soaked them overnight.