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A New Beans Thread

I'm trying to add more beans to my diet, especially black beans, because they're supposed to be good for me, but frankly, I don't really like them. Soups are okay, but soups feel lonely to me and not something I like cooking for the family (reminds me of my single days full of freezer-burned ziploc single packs, I guess), and I don't mind dips or spreads like hummus, but dips don't say "dinner" to me. No matter how I cook them, I just find beans mealy and a bit blah. The other issue is that I don't like the usual accompaniments - corn, red pepper, cilantro...combined with my complete intolerance for anything with heat, Latin American food is basically out.

So what to do? I made a big pot of black beans with ham stock and lots of garlic and it's delicious, but it just feels...meh. Is it a side dish? Dinner? Eating a plate of beans seems like prison rations, even though it took me all afternoon to simmer them. Help me get past this clear psychological block I have by giving me delicious recipes and ideas that don't involve corn or jalapenos.

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  1. Well, if you don't like 'em, then you don't like 'em. But if you *want* to like them and feel like it's a mental construct you want to get past, then that's a different thing. It will undoubtedly take time to make a big change. Be patient and maybe start with beans as sides and graduate to main courses.

    Me? I really like beans. I grew up with a New England family who had baked beans every Sunday and it was the highlight of the week. Just beans, brown bread or homemade bread and home canned relishes and pickles. Don't know if that's something that would appeal to you but it's hearty, nutritious (if a little heavy on the molasses) and yummy.

    Today, I only do baked beans occasionally in the summer as a side for BBQs. But I eat beans almost every day on a salad for lunch. Garbanzos are my go to bean. I brine them and then cook them in water seasoned with salt, aromatics and herbs. They're flavorful and have a wonderful creamy texture that canned beans can't compete with.

    Are black beans more nutritious than other varieties? I don't know, personally. My recipes don't employ black beans so much but I think you could pretty much substitute one variety of beans for another at will. Likewise, leave out corn and cilantro if you don't like them. And feel free to substitute canned beans for cooked dried beans or vice versa.

    My favorite ways of making beans into meals:

    Castelluccio Lentils with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola

    Castelluccio lentils from Umbria are tiny brownish jewels with a delicate flavor and a wonderfully tender texture. Like Puy lentils, they don’t disintegrate in the cooking, which makes them ideal for salads. You can get them from Italian or gourmet markets, or use Puy instead. This substantial dish, which is best eaten at room temperature, can be served on its own or with steamed seasonal greens such as broccolini or baby fennel.

    • 5 plum tomatoes
    • 8 sprigs thyme
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • salt, for tomatoes
    • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
    • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, best quality with real character
    • 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
    • 1 1/3 cups Castelluccio lentils
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • black pepper
    • 3 tablespoons chopped chervil or parsley
    • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
    • 4 tablespoons chopped dill
    • 3 ounces mild Gorgonzola, crumble

    1. To make the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool down slightly.

    2. Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a bit.

    3. Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 1 1/4 inches above the lentils) and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oil, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

    4. To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the Gorgonzola and tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top and serve.


    Chickpea & Sweet Potato Curry

    I doubt this is authentically Indian but it's certainly influenced by Indian curries.

    It develops really complex flavors after a day so plan to do this the day before or really look forward to leftovers.

    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
    • 1 jalapeño chile, cleaned and finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon curry powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
    • salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 large sweet potato , peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
    • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 cup cauliflower florets , bite-sized pieces
    • 3/4 cup frozen peas
    • 1/2 cup canned diced tomato pieces, drained
    • 2 tablespoons cashews, chopped, for garnish
    • 1 tablespoon cilantro, leaves only, chopped, for garnish

    1. Make the curry base:

    2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chile and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the spices and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

    3. Cook the vegetables:

    4. Add the sweet potato, chickpeas, coconut milk and water to the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring just to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sweet potato is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the peas and tomato and cook until heated through and the liquid is reduced to a thick sauce.

    5. Serve in bowls, over rice if desired, sprinkled with parsley and cashews for garnish.


    Flageolet Gratin

    • 2 small yellow onions, peeled
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
    • 1 cup flageolets, soaked overnight if dried
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 chile de arbol or other dried chile
    • salt
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
    • 2 tablespoons brown butter
    • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
    • tapenade

    1. Preheat oven 400˚.

    2. Dice half of 1 onion. In an oven proof pot, saute in oil, along with fennel & garlic for 5 minutes until soft. Add flageolets and cook 2-3 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf, chile, and 3 c water. Cover and bake in oven until tender (approx. 1 hour, can take longer depending on your beans), seasoning with salt halfway thru baking time and adding more water if too dry. Remove from oven to cool and take out bay leaf and chile. Keep oven on.

    3. Slice the rest of the onions (1 1/2) thinly and saute in a pan with butter until golden. Place them in the bottom of a 6"x6" baking dish and place flageolets (with some cooking liquids) over top. Combine bread crumbs with brown butter and parsley. Toss over beans and place in oven for 20 minutes.

    4. Serve with tapenade on the side.


    Oven Baked White Beans (Baked Gigantes)

    • 1 lb. dried gigantes or large lima beans
    • salt
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1 onion, grated
    • 1 1/4 cups hot vegetable broth, plus more as needed
    • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
    • dried red pepper flakes
    • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • pepper
    • 1 lemon

    1. Soak the beans. To cold-soak them, cover with plenty of cold water and let them stand overnight. To hot-soak them, cover them with plenty of boiling water and let stand 1 hour.

    2. Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan. Add cold water to cover, season with 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until crisp-tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour (the timing can vary widely and will depend on the type and age of the beans), then drain the beans.

    3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the olive oil, garlic and the onions in a baking dish and bake until the onions soften and turn golden, about 15 minutes. Add the beans to the onion mixture, stirring to coat, and return to the oven for 15 more minutes.

    4. Gently stir in the hot broth, parsley, dried red pepper flakes, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper, or to taste, and bake until the beans are tender and buttery, 20 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. If the mixture begins to dry out before the beans are tender, add a little more broth.

    5. Before serving, season to taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice.

    Notes: Gigantes beans can be found at Greek markets and select cooking supply stores. You can substitute 1 (14-ounce) can of tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes for the fresh tomatoes.


    Red Lentil Curry

    This is a rich and hearty lentil curry, great as a main meal rather than as a side dish like the more traditional Indian dhal. Don't let the ingredients list phase you, this really is an easy dish to make. This dish is great served with basmati rice.

    • 2 cups red lentils
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 2 tablespoons curry paste
    • 1 tablespoon curry powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
    • 1 (14.25 ounce) can tomato puree

    1. Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear (this is a very important step; don't skip or shortchange it or the lentils will clump together and release a less than pleasant froth layer), put the lentils in a pot with chicken broth to cover and simmer covered until lentils tender (add more water if necessary).

    2. While the lentils are cooking: In a large skillet or saucepan, caramelize the onions in vegetable oil.

    3. While the onions are cooking, combine the curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a mixing bowl. Mix well. When the onions are cooked, add the curry mixture (it isn't necessary to add it all if you want less spicy); you can always add more later) to the onions and cook over a high heat stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.

    4. Stir in the tomato puree and some coconut milk and reduce heat, allow the curry base to simmer until the lentils are ready.

    5. When the lentils are tender drain them briefly (they should have absorbed most of the water but you don't want the curry to be too sloppy). Mix the curry base into the lentils and serve immediately.



    Spicy Carrot and Chickpea Tagine with Turmeric and Cilantro

    • 3-4 tablespoons olive or pumpkin seed oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 2 teaspoons turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon dark honey
    • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on a diagonal
    • chicken broth
    • 2 14 1/2 ounce-can chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained
    • sea salt, to taste
    • cilantro leaves, finely chopped
    • 1 lemon, cut into wedges for serving
    • thick or drained yogurt, for serving

    1. Heat the oil in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the carrots, spices, honey and salt. Pour in enough chicken broth or water to cover the base of the tagine and cover with the lid. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes.

    2. Toss in the chickpeas checking that there is still enough liquid at the bottom of the tagine. Cover with the lid again and cook gently for 5-1-0 more minutes.

    3. Season with salt and sprinkle on cilantro leaves. Serve with lemon wedges and yogurt.


    Tomatoey Spiced Chickpeas

    Chickpeas loaded with warming, aromatic spices become a hearty vegetarian dinner when served with rice, cucumber salad, and a dollop of thick, cool yogurt. They’re also great alongside roast chicken.

    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
    • 1 1 1/2-inch piece cinnamon stick
    • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice
    • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint

    1. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook cumin, coriander, ginger, red-pepper flakes, and cinnamon stick, stirring constantly, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 2 minutes.

    2. Add tomatoes with juices, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon, then add chickpeas. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.

    3. Stir in parsley and mint. Serve warm or at room temperature.


    Leftovers can be coarsely mashed and fried as fritters. Serve them topped with fried eggs


    Rigatoni with White Beans and Tomatoes

    • 1 cup dried cannellini beans
    • 6 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 20 leaves fresh sage
    • 1 1/4 pound fresh tomato, peeled, seeded, juiced and chopped
    • salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 pound rigatoni

    1. Soak beans in cold water to cover for about 12 hours. Drain the beans and transfer them to a heavy saucepan. Add water to cover by about 1 inch and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently until the beans are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 1 1/2 hours.

    2. When the beans have been cooking for about an hour, in a large, shallow saucepan heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and sage leave and sauté, stirring frequently, until the garlic is tanslucent, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the beans, cover the pan with the lid slightly ajar and simmer for 15 minutes.

    3. Meanwhile, in a large pot bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni to the boiling water and cook until barely al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer to the saucepan containing the beans. Raise the heat to medium and stir well to coat the pasta, about a minute. Arrange on a warm platter and serve at once.

    4. Note: You can substitute basil for the sage, but add with the tomatoes instead of sautéing with the garlic.


    Borlotti Bean Salad

    Borlotti is the Italian name for speckled cranberry beans. I buy them at an Italian deli, Cavaretti's.

    • 2 cups dried borlotti, cranberry or other beans
    • 3/4 cup roasted corn kernals
    • 1 bunch green onions (white and green parts)
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
    • 1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper, minced
    • 8-12 cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered or cut into 1/8s
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
    • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

    1. Soak dried beans overnight. Cover with fresh water 2 inches above beans, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Drain.

    2. Place beans and corn in a large bowl. Mix in onions, garlic, chives, tomatoes and pepper. Make a fine julienne with lemon zest. Add zest and parsley to the bowl.

    3. Stir lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together to dissolve salt. Pour over beans and veggies and toss. Chill.

    Notes: Finely diced soft salami is a good addition if you don't want to go all the way to vegetarian.


    Cannelini Bean Parmesan Pancakes

    These are delicious and addictive.

    • 3 cups Cooked Cannelini Beans
    • 1 cup Parmesan, grated and at room temp
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 TBS Fresh Lemon Juice
    • 1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper, make it a coarse grind
    • 1/4 cup Milk
    • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
    • 1 1/2 TBS All-Purpose Flour
    • Pine nuts, for garnish
    • Rosemary Sprigs, for garnish
    • Warm Infused Oil

    Warm Rosemary and Garlic Infused Olive Oil
    • 3/4 cup Olive Oil (use something rich and flavorful)
    • 1 Sprig Rosemary
    • 1 Garlic Clove, lightly smashed and peeled

    1. Combine pancake ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

    2. Heat up a non-stick or other well seasoned skillet, adding a glug of olive oil to the pan. Using a small measuring cup or good sized spoon add the batter to the pan, being sure to keep the pancakes relatively small. Think biscuit instead of frisbee. Cook on both sides, being careful when flipping, until they are golden brown. Set on a towel to remove any excess oil.

    3. Arrange on a plate sprinkling with pine nuts sprigs of rosemary and drizzling with the warm infused olive oil.


    5. Place your ingredients in a sauce pan and heat up to a simmer, keep a watchful eye. Reduce the heat to low and allow to sit for 15 minutes before turning off. Allow the ingredients to infuse for 1 hour at the very least. I gave mine overnight. Before serving warm up the oil gently, being absolutely careful not to over heat and burn yourself. It should be warm enough when you can feel warmth radiating off of the pan. Do not, I repeat do not test it on your skin. I am sure most of you know that, but we all know there are a few who don’t.

    6. Serve drizzled over my cannelini bean pancakes.

    Notes: These can also be used as a base for a larger dish. Maybe topped with an herb salad, roasted tomatoes or some sort of seared seafood. As usual, the possibilities are endless.


    Curried Chickpeas

    The curry blend in this recipe gives an otherwise simple salad wonderful depth and robust flavor. Coriander and cumin lend fragrant earthiness, with a little cayenne pepper added for a hint of heat. The caramelized onions add richness, and the cilantro and lemon juice brighten the salad nicely, distinguishing the flavors. You can make it in advance; this is one salad that improves with an hour or two of chilling time.

    • 1/2 cup diced onions
    • 4 teaspoons best-quality olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
    • salt

    1. In a large sauté pan heated over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until deep golden and crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently.

    2. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic and lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.

    3. Add the chickpeas, cilantro and lemon juice and continue to stir to develop the flavors, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt, or to taste.

    4. Cool the salad, then transfer it to a container, cover and refrigerate until chilled before serving, at least 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning and lemon juice as desired. This makes just over 3 cups salad.


    Quick & Easy Curried Chickpeas

    • 1 12-oz can chickpeas
    • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, lightly chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice , or substitute lime
    • 1 shallot OR 1/3 cup purple onion, minced or diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce OR soy sauce
    • 2 Tbsp. oil for stir-frying

    1. Heat up a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. oil plus the shallots (or onion) and garlic. Stir-fry 1 minute.

    2. Add all of the dry spices (except the pepper), plus whatever sauce you're using (fish, soy, or veg. fish sauce). Also add 1 Tbsp. water. Stir-fry together briefly.

    3. Add the chickpeas and continue stir-frying until they are covered with the spice mixture and are nice and hot (about 5 minutes). If they become too dry, another Tbsp. water.

    4. Remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice, black pepper, and most of the fresh coriander.

    5. Do a taste-test. Adjust the salt level by adding a little more soy or fish sauce if not salty enough. If too salty, add another squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

    6. Top with any remaining coriander and serve hot with rice. ENJOY!


    Tangy Sweet Garbanzo Bean Salad

    • 2 cups dried garbanzo beans (or three 15-ounce cans, (or three 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
    • Half a preserved lemon, chopped (or 1 large fresh lemon, juice and zest)
    • 1 1/2 cups celery, sliced thinly on the bias
    • 1/2 cup golden raisins
    • 1/4 cup roughly chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1. If using canned garbanzo beans, skip this cooking process. If using dried garbanzo beans, put them in a bowl, cover them with cool water, about 1 quart; let chickpeas soak at room temperature overnight, or at least 8 hours.

    2. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans, then pour them into large pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until they're soft to the bite but not mushy, about an hour (longer if you don't soak them). Once garbanzo beans are done, drain and rinse them.

    3. In a large bowl, combine the garbanzo beans, preserved lemon, celery, raisins, parsley, oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and toss to mix. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour, then taste and adjust seasoning before serving.


    Mediterranean Tuna Salad

    • 1 can tuna, Italian style with olive oil
    • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/4 cup oil-packed ripe olives, pitted and quartered
    • 3 or 4 leaves fresh basil, cut in chiffonade
    • 2 cup Roma tomatoes
    • 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
    • 1 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
    • 1/2 - 1 cup miniature penne, ditalini or other small pasta, uncooked
    • salt & pepper
    • boiling water

    1. Place tuna with the oil in a large bowl, breaking up large pieces. Add the well-drained garbanzos, the olive pieces and the basil. Set aside.

    2. Meanwhile, dice tomato into about 1/4" pieces and place them in a sieve over a bowl to collect the juices.

    3. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil to coat bottom. Put uncooked pasta in the pan, stirring to coat with oil. Add onion and garlic, continuing to stir. Pour on the tomato juice that has collected, retaining tomatoes in the sieve and replacing it over the bowl to collect any additional juices. Add a good pinch of salt and several turns of freshly ground pepper to the pan. Stir while the liquid bubbles gently adjusting the heat up if necessary. Using Clotilde's risotto method, continue adding any additional tomato juices and boiling water to the pan and stirring until the pasta is cooked. Cooked pasta will have significantly increased in size, lost a good bit of its yellow color and have a pleasant soft texture.

    4. Pour pasta over tuna in the bowl and toss to combine. Place in fridge to cool and allow flavors to blend. Check cooled salad for seasonings and add salt & pepper or additional basil as necessary.

    5. Serve cold on lettuce leaves or in a hollowed tomato.

    Notes: Nice variation on tuna salad which will be especially appealing in summer because there's no mayo.


    Pork Tomatillo Black Bean Chili

    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1 bottle dark beer
    • 1 pound tomatillos, husked and quartered
    • 1/4 cup oil
    • 1 head garlic, with cloves peeled
    • 1 1/2 pound pork, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 1 15-oz. can black beans, with liquid
    • 2 large onions , chopped
    • 2 pound fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 can Ortega chiles , diced
    • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, crushed
    • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
    • 1 lime, zest and juice
    • 1/2 cup sour cream

    1. Combine orange juice, beer and tomatillos. Cook 20 min. on medium heat. Set aside.

    2. Heat oil in large skillet. Cook garlic cloves (yes, all of them) for 2 minutes. Cook pork in thirds adding each batch to tomatillo mixture.

    3. Lightly brown onions in the skillet. Add to mixture. Add tomatoes, chilis, red pepper and cilantro. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours. Add beans and cook uncovered for another 1/2 hour. Adjust seasonings.

    4. Mix sour cream with lime juice and lime zest for garnish. Sever with chili over hot rice.

    Notes: An interesting chili with a very full, if not completely conventional flavor.

    22 Replies
    1. re: rainey

      Wow what a great post

      The OP has a lot of dislikes but you sure gave a lot ways to enjoy beans

      1. re: rainey

        holy smoke, rainey -- that is not a post, it is a cookbook. thank you.

        you gave the OP so many options that met his restrictive criteria, and yet you gave him a "world" of beans. bravo! well done.

        1. re: rainey

          I concur -- fabulous post! Informative and exhaustive!

          1. re: rainey

            So glad if it's a useful post -- particularly for the original poster. As I said, I really love beans and it was late at night and I had time so I just went through my recipe database.

            Do try that borlotti bean salad. A wonderful thing happens when you pair beans and lemon!

            And, to thursday, remember to pair your beans with dairy or grains to ensure a complete protein if you're not having them with meat or eggs.

            1. re: rainey

              Holy Moley, rainey (holy mole? LOL) -- that comes out at 15 pages when I copy it into a word document. Thanks!

              And thanks for that -- we eat our share of beans around here -- but it's nice to have such a fantastic new collection to work from.

              And BONUS for all -- healthy, cheap comfort food as the weather begins to cool.

              1. re: sunshine842

                "plus one" as big bean fans. we love them for their versatility and healthfulness -- and they -- most importantly -- taste good. one can really "turn" beans in any cuisine direction.

                as a southerner, when i get lonely or nostalgic, i make up some black eyed peas with bacon and fried corn pone, and things get immensely "better" with the world. ;-).

                1. re: alkapal

                  and don't forget a little epazote or baking soda (only a pinch in a whole pot) to help with the, erm, side effects of eating beans.

                  On that issue, patience...it takes a little while for your body to adjust to the additional roughage -- eat some extra yogurt, and it will clear up in a few weeks in most cases.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Baking soda will destroy the B vitamins in beans. Think twice before adding it.

                    1. re: sr44

                      but when given a choice between some of the B vitamins and spending your life in solitary confinement until your body adjusts....

                      and it's only a pinch in a whole pot full of beans...it's easy to overdo the baking soda...and it tastes nasty when you do.

                      1. re: sr44

                        The major reason for using baking soda when cooking beans is hard water, which makes it difficult for the beans to cook thoroughly, i.e. soften. Calcium and magnesium, the salts which cause water to be hard, chemically react with some components in the beans and retard the rehydration process. 1/8 tsp baking soda in a cup of beans is plenty to speed up the softening process. Better yet, cook your beans in distilled or bottled water.

                        Since I've lived mostly in areas with not particularly hard water, except when I was young and living in NJ, I've never had use for baking soda in beans, and have read about it's alkaline properties destroying B vitamins. Pantothentic acid (B5) is destroyed by an alkali, as is thiamine (B1); since beans are a good source of B vitamins, it would be a shame to remove them from the nutritional equation.

                        My point is that if you don't have hard water, you don't need to use baking soda. Epazote is a carminative, and effectively deals with them explosive bean side effects, as can onion, coriander, fennel, garlic, parsley, marjoram and oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, ginger and hops. I don't recommend hops in beans, thought, way too bitter.

                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                          Hard water is alkaline. Why do you need to add baking soda to it?

                          1. re: sr44

                            An excellent question.

                            Hard water is alkaline, but creating or increasing alkalinity is not the reason for adding baking soda to hard water when cooking beans.

                            Dried beans and peas become tough when cooked in hard water; calcium and magnesium salts can prevent softening. Calcium ions present in hard water cause cross-linking to occur between certain molecules within the beans; the subsequent structure prevents water entering and the bean remains hard. A simple way to counteract this effect is to add baking soda to the cooking water. So although hard water is alkaline, adding sodium bicarbonate to hard water to cause a higher level of alkalinity, than what already exists, is not the point; it's more about reducing the chemical effect of calcium and magnesium salts on the beans.

                            Simply put, it's the chemical structure of the beans, and baking soda in the cooking water negates the effects of calcium on the beans, thereby allowing them to soften.

                    2. re: alkapal

                      alkapal - i have had a bag of black eyed peas in the freezer for a while - never having made them in any form - I would really appreciate a recipe suggestion to initiate me please!

                      1. re: smilingal

                        glad to oblige, smilingal! i had this tonight, in fact, using a small bag of the peas with snaps, along with three finely-chopped bacon slices. this is a simple prep.

                        sauté some diced bacon in your saucepan for the beans. (others use fatback, smoked hamhock, or diced ham for the pork component, or you can use a ham bone, but that is usually for long cooking the dried peas that have been soaked).

                        render most of the fat so that the bacon is pretty well done. this should be done relatively slowly, so that your bacon doesn't burn and the fat doesn't smoke (too much ;-).

                        add to the pot your bag of frozen peas, and add water to cover -- maybe a wee bit more. add a decent dash of salt (you may need more salt later, but you need to add some at this stage for flavor inside the bean).

                        cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover to cook at a low simmer until the beans are no longer al dente. don't overcook till mushy; test by pushing a bean up against the side of the pot after about 10 minutes (or a few minutes prior to the end of the recommended cook time).

                        eat these peas and their pot liquor with cornbread, and a little pepper vinegar splashed on top of the beans, if you'd like. maybe you want to add a good spoonful of pico de gallo on top, too. eat with your favorite soup spoon. ;-)).

                        cooled, the drained peas (don't waste the liquid; when heated, it is good to drink like soup!) can be mixed with all or part of a container of "fresh salsa" (pico de gallo-- fresh, not cooked!!!) from the grocery store, a splash of rice wine vinegar, and some diced celery -- if you want crunch -- for a great little salad. i don't add oil, because i use bacon in the bean prep.

                        (this time of year, the tomatoes in the salsa are better than i can buy to make pico myself). i keep the pico around as a staple in my fridge anyway -- it is useful in so many applications.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          thanks alkapal - I will have to try this one night soon - the bag just keeps getting pushed around in the freezer!

                          1. re: smilingal

                            "nobody puts black eyed peas in a corner!" ;-)

                2. re: rainey

                  Wow!! OP here - and this is fantastic!! Every bean recipe I come across seems to be Mexican-based, and this is just a bean-ucopia of a reply! Looking forward to trying out a bunch of these-

                  Thanks so much, rainey!

                  1. re: rainey

                    Rainey, my thanks for this post too. I made the Pork-tomatillo-bb chile and it was fabulous. A nice change from the usual black bean chiles I tend to make. Anxious to try the other recipes.

                    1. re: tcamp

                      Glad you liked it!

                      I first got the recipe in a school fund raiser casserole sale. Later, I rediscovered it in one of Ruth Reichl's books as a favorite from the first restaurant she worked in in Berkeley. I think it was called The Swallow.

                      Anyway, I agree with you that it's a very nice variation on a typical chili. But then I'm very partial to the tart flavor of tomatillos and I think they're about perfect with pork.

                      I hope there's something else there that you enjoy. ;>

                    2. re: rainey

                      wonderful post! great recipes, thanks!

                      1. are you eating them just by themselves? That *is* lonely.

                        Beans are a worldwide food -- and it sounds like you have yourself penned into a "Mexican" frame of mind -- but there are loads of bean dishes that don't have heat or anything you've put on the "no-go" list....even from the Spanish-speaking world.

                        Cuban black beans are eaten over rice...which not only helps make it a little more interesting, but helps with digestion...you'd cook those in ham stock with onions and garlic and a couple of diced mild chorizos (adds fabulous flavor)

                        Cajun red beans and rice can be made as mild or spicy as you like...but won't be lacking in flavor or interest.

                        For a bean dish, have a look at a cassoulet recipe -- it's an all-day affair to make according to the traditional recipe, but there are some shortcut recipes -- and the combination of pork and creamy white beans is delicious (you can definitely move it upscale with duck and pricey Tarbais beans, but there are pork-only versions that are outstanding, too)

                        How about petit sale? It's a French comfort food with green lentils, a ham hock, a couple of smoked sausages, carrots and onions. (a favorite at my house)

                        How about black-bean chili? Again -- if you're cooking, you can control the heat.

                        But don't hesitate to put it over rice or another grain -- even couscous can be a good vehicle for beans -- and dress it up!

                        1. Rainey has a lot of good recipes in her post. Here are a couple more suggestions. The black bean and sweet potato stew from Epicurious is very tasty and not spicy. I never bother with making the accompanying polenta triangles, I just serve it with white rice.


                          Here's a nice recipe cor curried lentils with sweet potatoes and swiss chard from NY Times, I make from time to time resulting in a very happy family:

                          We also love a warm lentil salad with a garlicky, lemony vinaigrette from Julia Child, can't recall which book I got it from.

                          And check out Jamie Oliver's site for great bean cooking tips and recipes. In Jamie at Home he addresses the same points you do, namely that beans have a reputation for being boring, and he's out to change that. Here's a link:


                          There's lots of options for adding beans to your diet that go beyond a bowl of beans!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: janniecooks

                            I was really surprised how good black beans and sweet potatoes are together. Here is a recipe for black bean and sweet potato chili that is really yummy. If you don't like spicy, I would cut down/cut out the chipotle in adobo, though.


                            Dinner here tonight is red beans & rice, cornbread and salad. Don't really have a specific recipe for it, though.

                          2. Do you like falafel? I've had good results with this recipe from epicurious, and you don't even have to cook the dried chickpeas (just soak them).


                            How about 'asian' black bean burgers? I never really use a recipe for this, but a simple way to do it would be to mash cooked black beans, mix with some bread crumbs, an egg, and a few Tbsp. of hoisin sauce (or a more complicated method of sauteeing diced onions/garlic/ginger, then turning off the heat and adding the other ingredients). Cook like a burger. For some reason I always serve this with sweet potato fries.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: LabLady

                              I was going to post this exact falafel recipe! It's delicious.

                              1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                criminy! must try this...ugh...falafels have become my "fried fast food once in a while"... truly, I don't crave burgers & fries, but falafels...gotta have 'em...and the reviews are so glowing. Joan Nathan is a wonderful chef, too...okay, next weekend: falafels, homemade.

                                1. re: Val

                                  It's pretty good! I definitely add more cilantro and parsley than it calls for (probably twice as much) and a little bit of extra oil mixed in to help hold it together.

                            2. I have a couple of thoughts. Add a bread, perhaps a good cornbread, and a salad to the meal. This says supper to me. If you don't care for black beans, nobody says you have to fix them. I don't care for navy beans at all. I'm not much for red beans either. So I don't cook them. There are many other legumes to try.

                              If the beans you cook are too mushy for your taste, then there is a technique you can use to firm them up. Cook them the day before use (I use a pressure cooker), and then chill them overnight. They will be firmer the next day.

                              In terms of taste, different beans take seasonings differently. You can try cooking beans in chicken broth. I like to add bay leaf and peppercorns to the bean pot as well as the usual aromatics. Adding salty pork or smoked turkey can give a nice depth of flavor to the dish. You can add your favorite greens to a pot of beans in the last few minutes of cooking. You can garnish with cheese.

                              I'd try to add flavors that you love to your beans. But you don't have to cook black beans if you don't like them.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: sueatmo

                                i just asked hubby what he wanted for dinner tomorrow night....soup beans cooked with pork hock , cornbread, and slamon patties! I will probaly do some fried potatoes too

                                1. re: LaLa

                                  Wow, can i come to dinner? I reality I would only cook beans, cornbread and salad for one meal, as that is plenty of food for us. (And I've quit making cornbread, as I am eating low carb. Even a bowl of beans is stretching it for me.) But I can't give up beans completely. I love them too much.

                                  1. re: LaLa

                                    LaLA, your hubby must've come from my neck of the woods. ;-)

                                2. When I saw the thread title, I thought, "Oh no, not another bean thread," but this one is exceptional in recipe quality and overall content. I thank all who have shared here.

                                  I'll add two, the first with sausage and the second, vegetarian:

                                  Garbanzos, Sausage and Potatoes

                                  Serves 8 – 10 or 6 for big eaters

                                  1 lb. dried garbanzo beans
                                  Olive oil
                                  3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
                                  1 yellow malanga, peeled and cut into pieces, or peeled yuca, optional, or carrots
                                  1 garlicky kielbasa, thickly sliced (the original recipe called for chorizo)
                                  1⁄2 lb. lean salt pork, diced fairly small
                                  1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped
                                  6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
                                  1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
                                  1⁄4 cup crushed tomatoes or more, to taste
                                  2 tsp. sweet paprika

                                  1. Put garbanzos in a large pot, cover with cold water, and set aside to soak overnight. Drain, then add cold water to cover garbanzos by 2" and 1 tbsp. olive oil. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

                                  2. Add potatoes, malanga (if using), sausage, and salt pork. Cook until garbanzos and other vegetables are soft, about 1 hour more.

                                  3. Meanwhile, heat 1⁄4 cup olive oil in a dutch oven, add onions, garlic, peppers, and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato purée and paprika. Add to beans and cook 15 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and serve with white rice, for extra carb overload.

                                  Andean Bean Stew with Winter Squash and Quinoa

                                  Yield: Serves 4 to 6 heartily.

                                  This savory, filling pot of beans is inspired by a Chilean bean stew and uses quinoa instead of the corn called for in the authentic version. Make it a day ahead for the best flavor.

                                  1 pound dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over, soaked in 2 quarts water overnight or for 6 hours
                                  Salt for brining the beans while soaking, I use about 2 teaspoons per lb of beans.

                                  2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
                                  1 medium onion, chopped
                                  1 tablespoon sweet paprika
                                  4 large garlic cloves, minced
                                  1-2 bay leaves
                                  1 tsp dried thyme
                                  1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
                                  1 pound winter squash, such as butternut, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
                                  1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
                                  Freshly ground pepper
                                  3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley (I use parsley, I don't know how much basil is used for seasoning in the Andes.)

                                  1. Place the soaked brined beans and fresh water in a large pot. Add water if necessary to cover the beans by about 2 inches, and bring to a boil. Skim off foam, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 60 minutes, or until the beans are tender but intact. Add salt to taste.

                                  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy saute pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes, and add the paprika and thyme. Stir together for about a minute, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, until the garlic and onions are very fragrant but not brown, and stir in the tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly and smell fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and scrape the contents of the pan into the pot of beans.

                                  3. Bring the beans back to a simmer, add the bay leaf and winter squash, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the squash and beans are thoroughly tender. Add the quinoa and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the quinoa is translucent and al dente. Taste and adjust salt. Add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Stir in the basil or parsley, simmer for a couple of minutes more, and serve, with cornbread or crusty country bread.

                                  1. I see that you don't care for heat; I've made this for the heat intolerant using bacon grease to sweat the onion and that also adds a nice smokiness. If you can abide a little heat, I think just a bit of adobo from the chipoltles would be good. To me, this is a totally worthwhile meal with just a sprinkle of cilantro (you could use parsley or celery leaves or even oregano/marjoram, but it does benefit from that bright green punch) but if you feel deprived with just beans cornbread is a nice side.


                                    I just toss some minced garlic in with the onion instead of buying special tomatoes.

                                    1. Black beans make excellent refried beans without all the fat. Puree presoaked/cooked or out of the can drained and then heat in a pan with some garic and chopped cilantro. I add this to fish tacos and scrambled eggs often.

                                      And my hats off to every bean lover on this thread-fantastic ideas. Thank you.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Homemade refried beans are great! They are great in quesadillas too, or just as a side.

                                        1. re: DeeCee

                                          We love homemade refried beans. In fact, it has ruined refried beans in Mexican restaurants. We have yet to find any refried beans served in restaurants as good as those we make at home. Refried beans are not difficult to make so I am mystified as to why this happens.

                                      2. What about in turkey chili? I make this for my kids all the time and put it over some brown rice. It is not spicy at all and you can use black beans or whatever kind you want. I just made a big batch today and I freeze it in smaller portions. I also throw in grated carrots for some extra vegetable power that my son can't see :)


                                        Also, gotvin's Rice and Beans is very good. Not spicy and you can also use whatever kind of beans you want or a combination. My kids love this too. Oh, and I use turkey or chicken sausage.


                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: valerie

                                          Hurray for turkey chili. One of my favorite chilis. Make mine with garbanzos and black beans.

                                          I just made a divine white chili in my slow cooker using turkey tenderloin and Great Northern beans. I have about 1/2 saved in the freezer for a colder day. This was a new recipe for me, and it is a keeper.

                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                            i love white chiii! you wanna share your recipe, sueatmo?

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              I used a recipe from the book, "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker." With one or two adaptations. I will type it out with my changes when I get a chance. It was very good.

                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                sue, here is the recipe…to save your efforts, just let us know how you tweaked it. http://www.notyourmotherscookbook.com...

                                                i know one way that i'd tweak it is add a *wee* bit of coriander and use dried cannelini beans, and i think i'd omit the "creamy" part. (maybe use a bit of sour cream to top it, then swirl in).

                                                heh heh, guess i've already tweaked it a lot meself, LOL!

                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  Hey thanks. I didn't know any of these recipe are online, even though I have subscribed to Beth's blog:

                                                  Here's how I changed the recipe:

                                                  I soaked the beans for 4 or 5 hours, and then cooked them in the PC in the chicken broth with the garlic and 1/2 onions. I think I only had to cook them for about 15 minutes, but they came out superbly. (Soaking beans before pressure cooking works better for me, perhaps because of our slightly hard water.) The beans tasted amazing. I chilled them overnight in their broth to allow them to firm up.

                                                  I used 2 turkey tenderloins instead of the chicken breasts. I cut them into pieces approximating the size of 1/4 chicken breast and followed the recipe's instructions.

                                                  I used Penzey's chile powder, med strength.

                                                  I omitted the zucchini and the corn.

                                                  I thickened the chili using a blender, instead of mashing.

                                                  This made by far the best white chili I've ever had.

                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                    hhmmmm…interesting, because the recipe i linked is supposed to be that recipe you mentioned originally -- but…there is no zucchini or chili powder in the one i linked. perhaps it is not as it claimed (i'm SHOCKED, shocked, i say!) . ;-).

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      No, it isn't the same recipe. OK, I'll get the recipe in today or tomorrow. The recipe I use doesn't rely on rotisseried chicken, but on 2 or 3 1/2 chicken breasts. I should have checked the link. sorry.

                                              2. re: alkapal

                                                White Chili
                                                **For a medium or large slow cooker**

                                                1 lb. dried great northern beans, soaked overnight
                                                8 C chicken broth
                                                2 cloves garlic,minced
                                                2 med-sized yellow onions, chopped
                                                3 T. olive oil
                                                3 boneless chicken breasts halves, skinned
                                                1 med-sized jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
                                                2 4oz cans chopped roasted green chiles
                                                1½ t. dried oregano
                                                1½ t. ground cumin
                                                ¼ t. ground cloves
                                                ¼ to ½ t. cayenne pepper or New Mexican chile powder
                                                2 med-sized zucchini (optional) sliced into rounds
                                                1 C canned, fresh or frozen corn kernels (optional)
                                                1 ½ t. salt

                                                For serving

                                                3 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese
                                                ½ C minced fresh cilantro

                                                1. Put the drained beans, 6 C of the broth, the garlic and half the onions in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until the beans are tender, but not mushy, 2-2 ½ hours. Add some boiling water to keep them covered, if necessary; the beans will be soupy. The beans can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated overnight.

                                                **I cooked the beans differently. I soaked the beans for a few hours, and then cooked them in the broth with the garlic and onions in the pressure cooker for about 15 minutes. Then I chilled them in the fridge overnight to firm up. The 15 minutes was timed from the start of pressure.**

                                                2. Heat 2 T. of the olive oil in a large skillet over mid-high heat; cook the remaining onion until tender. Add the chicken jalapeno, and remaining T. of oil and cook until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside, 5-6 minutes; transfer everything (including the cooked beans, if you have reserved them from the day before) to the cooker. Add the roasted chiles, oregano, cumin, cloves, cayenne, and remaining 2 C of broth; stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-6 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, if possible. During the last hour add the zucchini, corn and salt.

                                                **I used 2 turkey tenderloins cut into thirds, instead of the chicken breasts. I cooked them as instructed for the chicken breasts, and added them the same. I added the beans right from the fridge in their broth to the pot with the other ingredients. I did not add the vegetables at the last.**

                                                3. Remove the chicken from cooker, shred with a fork, and return to the cooker. To thicken the chili, mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with the back of a large spoon. Serve the chili in bowls garnished with the shredded cheese and chopped cilantro.

                                                6 to 8 servings


                                                The source for this recipe is "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook," by Beth Hesnperger and Julie Kaufmann. I recommend this cookbook.

                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                  that looks good -- thanks sue! the cloves were surprising.

                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                    I made this again last week. I froze 1/2 of the recipe, and just a couple of days later Mr. Sueatmo requested I thaw that batch and heat it for dinner. I think this is the best way to cook Great Northerns that I know of.

                                            2. as soon as I read your post I thought middle eastern, italian, greek, french cuisines all have a multitude of options - many of which have been posted.
                                              Just expand your cuisines and range of beans and you'll find plenty you like - we eat beans heaps and rarely Latin American style! (cos we prefer other cuisines)

                                              1. Boston baked beans. Depression-type beans---a big pot of navy beans and boiled potatoes served with chopped raw onion. Cuban black beans cooked with garlic and cumin. Buttery lima beans cooked with a ham bone. Mexican refried pinto beans. Hummos. Kidney beans in chili. Kidney bean salad. Kidney beans on a salad bar. Garbanzos on a salad bar. Lentejas Chilenas. Puerto Rican red beans with rice. New Orleans red beans (simmered long with andouille and ham) and rice. A can of pork & beans poured over hot buttered whole wheat toast with a pickle on the side. HOW COULD ANYBODY NOT LIKE BEANS?

                                                1. Do be careful not to add tomatoes or other acid until *after* your beans are soft...the acid will prevent them from getting soft, and you'll be stuck with a bowl of very tasty little bullets.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    This is true, an acid slows down the softening process. While alkalis speed up cooking by minutes, acids virtually halts it. In acid conditions beans simply refuse to get soft. The outer skin of the bean is a carbohydrate that is held together by insoluble organic substances called pectins.

                                                    Cooking changes this pectin glue to soluble pectins which slowly dissolve; that's why beans turn tender. Acid changes the picture. The pectic substances remain insoluble even through long cooking. A mere 1 teaspoon vinegar in the cooking water of 1 pound (half kilo) of beans virtually stops the softening process. Molasses, which is an acid AND contains calcium, can prevent beans from softening also. That's why I boil my beans until tender before I add molasses, and the other seasonings, when make baked beans.

                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                      and Molasses is a sneaky one...I made that mistake *once*...you don't think about it being acidic.

                                                      (good news was I waited long enough that the beans were *mostly* tender -- a little too tough to be al dente, but still edible...and the entire crockpot full of baked beans disappeared.)

                                                  2. Wow. This is one of the most information-rich threads I've ever seen here...this produces a whole cookbook of bean recipes...

                                                    Thanks to all who have contributed.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      And to think I thought it was just another bean thread...

                                                    2. Just made this tonight...it's called Morroco Lentils and I can't remember where I got it but it was great. It's kind of a stew, serve over rice or with pitas.

                                                      1 tbsp olive oil
                                                      1 onion, chopped
                                                      3 garlic cloves chopped
                                                      1 tomato, chopped
                                                      1 cup dry brown or green lentils
                                                      3 cups water/broth
                                                      1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (spinach can be used)
                                                      1 tbsp paprika
                                                      1 tsp ground cumin
                                                      1/2 tsp cinnamon
                                                      1 tsp salt, pepper to taste.

                                                      Sauté the onion + garlic in the oil on medium heat about 5 minutes. Add tomato, parsley and all spices, stir well, cook a few minutes more. Add lentils + water, bring to boil. Cover partially, reduce to medium and cook about 30-40 minutes until lentils well-done. Add more water if needed for thick-rather-soupy consistency.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Face_hole

                                                        This sounds very good. Lentils are so adaptable. I should cook them more often. I cooked black lentils this week, and combined them with braised spinach and mustard greens. Top with a little cheese. Add a little Cholula hot sauce. Mmm. Very good. Very simple.

                                                      2. I absolutely adore beans/legumes and there are many ways to enjoy them, as everyone else has already pointed out. Like you, I don't like corn (unless it was picked that morning) or anything too spicy, so I am with you there! I say don't give up until you have experimented a bit.

                                                        Each bean really is different. I have learned that while I love chickpeas, I hate them in vinaigrettes, but I adore them after they have been pan-fried. Lentils come in a variety of types and each is suited to different preparations- I love French du Puy lentils in salads (or black beluga) and this is where I usually play up vinaigrettes. Red lentils are more creamy and work well in soups and Indian dals. I have also been experimenting with different white beans and anyone who likes canned white kidney beans should be shot. I don't find them good for anything other than purees as they are usually really mushy. Flageolet beans are my favourites as they keep their shape well and are really creamy.

                                                        In fact, I think you are putting yourself at a disservice if you don't cook your own beans. I know it is a lengthy process, but just make extra and freeze the rest for later. This way you can throw in extra seasonings and cook them to the right consistency.. you can also explore different kinds of beans (flageolet, French du Puy, anasazi, etc).

                                                        With that being said, some of my favourite meals include Indian dals (trust me they don't have to be spicy) including Nepalese Dal Bhat and a Split Pea Dal and with Ginger and Lime. I also love red lentils in soups. NYTimes has a great one with lemon and cumin - coupled with a leafy salad, this is a meal in a bowl. For my pan-fried chickpea suggestions, I like it as a warm salad with artichoke hearts (or with roasted red peppers and capers but I know you don't like red peppers).

                                                        For black beans specifically, look for a Brazilian black bean soup as they are usually filled with flavourful, fruity ingredients like mango (I like the one in The Tropical Vegan). You could also look into a black bean feijoada which is a smoky, hearty stew that can have meat and mushrooms as well. Although I will admit that they pair very nicely with lime and cilantro, which you don't seem to like. :(


                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: blinknoodle

                                                          I agree that dried beans cooked by the home cook are usually better than beans from cans, but not everyone has time to cook beans. A pressure cooker is probably the best way, at least it is for me, but not everyone has a pc. Beans from cans are better than no beans at all.

                                                          1. re: blinknoodle

                                                            Nepalese Dal Bhat? You can't just dangle that out there and not provide a recipe! ;)

                                                            1. re: blinknoodle

                                                              blinknoodle - i tried to find the recipe for the brazilian black bean soup but only came up with one from that book that didn't have the mango in it- it did have oj i think - could you post your recipe please? it sounds intriguing.

                                                            2. There is a great recipe for "Tuscan Bean and Swiss Chard Soup" on Epicurious that is delicious. I've made it several times. It uses the rind of parmesan cheese so when you have that available, it is a nice dish. It also uses pancetta which sometimes is hard to find so I have substituted ham hocks which is more reasonable. It also has fennel (some places call this anise). It is really delicious and is far from prison rations!

                                                              1. From Elizabeth David: take half a pound of bacon rashers, lay them out on a board together, cover them with about 4-5 Tbsp. of a mixture of (your choice of quantities) of chopped garlic, Italian parsley, black pepper, a pinch of cinnamon, and a tiny pinch of cloves. then roll the bacon up, jelly-roll style, and put the fat little rolls in the bottom of a clay bean pot. Add a pound of rinsed, dried red kidney beans, cover with water, put on the lid and cook for about 5 hours at 275, adding water as necessary to keep moist. Doesn't that sound weird? Did to me, but I'm glad I tried it - it's now a fine addiction at my house. Served with warm hard-crusted Italian bread, and a drift of good parmigiano - ahhh.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: elenacampana

                                                                  Do the little bacon rolls cook up into the beans in some way or remain little bundles to be eaten at the end or something?

                                                                  It may be fun but I'm trying to imagine why the recipe is prepared in that unusual way.

                                                                    1. re: rainey

                                                                      I've always wondered that myself, for 25 years now! You've inspired me to test it out, so this fall I'll make some both ways and let you know. The only thing that occurs to me right off the bat is that rolling up the bacon helps keep it from getting dried out in the long cooking - at the end there are no bundles left, but the bacon isn't stringy or anything. That said, I like your idea of the edible bundles, so will try a batch with the bundles secured with toothpicks.

                                                                      1. re: elenacampana

                                                                        Too funny! I wasn't proposing something; I was just trying to imagine how it works. ;>

                                                                        When I do baked beans I always put some chopped and cooked bacon into them but I also top the bean pot with a lattice of uncooked bacon so that the rendering fat will keep the beans on the surface moist through the slow roasting.

                                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                                          PS. It's supposed to be an Italian recipe, and since Elizabeth David was writing this in the '60s, she probably used bacon because pancetta was hard to get in England - so maybe I *have* to make Version 3 now, with pancetta... - poor little me, back to the kitchen!

                                                                  1. I was never a particular bean fan until I tried Rancho Gordo's heirloom beans. He has a cookbook too, and you can order the beans online. The cookbook's directions can be a little inexact, but they give a lot of ideas. And the beans are amazing.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                          They claim to be fresher for one, and they also have interesting varietals. I think they tend to have a better mouthfeel on average - not chalky or mealy. There are a ton of varietals offered by Rancho Gordo though, so ymmv depending on which one you try.

                                                                          I know there's another heirloom bean distributor - Zursun - anyone ever try those?

                                                                          1. re: Pandora

                                                                            wow.... so I just had to look up ymmv because I couldn't figure out what it stood for. The first answer to my search said "You make me vomit" LOL To keep this on topic, I tried Rancho Gordo beans after seeing an Emeril Green episode that was filmed there. They really are fantastic.

                                                                          2. re: alkapal

                                                                            I have purchased Rancho Gordo brand beans at the San Francisco Ferry Building farmers market (Saturday mornings) a couple of times. I think what makes them worth the money is they have varieties that you never see anywhere else. I recently boiled some plain Tepary beans which I got there, and they tasted pretty interesting even without any spices added. Sort of like baked beans but not sweet. I was also happy with some speckled dark red beans with pale speckles.

                                                                        2. I'm bean obsessed, so I can't believe I missed this thread until now!

                                                                          I know someone mentioned Rancho Gordo, and I do think their beans are worth the money. In fact, some varieties, such as Good Mother Stallard or Christmas Lima Beans, are a revelation. If I'm making chickpeas or black beans, I use regular supermarket varieties. But for something special, I go for the RGs.

                                                                          Anyway, my latest favorite is a killer version of baked beans that is infused with pureed dried chiles. Here's the recipe, below. Also, this "October Unprocessed" article has loads of good recipes and ideas for adding more beans to your life: http://www.eatingrules.com/2011/10/fo...

                                                                          Chile-Baked Beans

                                                                          1 pound dried Goat’s Eye beans (or substitute another bean such as Great Northern, Jacob’s Cattle, Yellow Indian Woman or Yellow Eye
                                                                          )2 small dried pasilla chiles (or substitute ancho chiles)
                                                                          2 tablespoons olive or organic canola oil
                                                                          1 large yellow onion, diced
                                                                          2 cloves garlic, minced
                                                                          2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
                                                                          4 to 6 fresh ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped – about 1 cup (or substitute 1 cup canned tomatoes, well chopped)
                                                                          1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
                                                                          ¼ cup dark brown sugar
                                                                          ¼ cup molasses
                                                                          1/4 cup cider vinegar
                                                                          3 shakes Tabasco sauce
                                                                          ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste

                                                                          Soak the beans overnight, or use the quick soak method (bring the beans to a boil in a pot of water, boil 2 minutes, cover and remove from heat for 1 hour. Drain.)

                                                                          Place the soaked beans in a large saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until nearly tender, about 30 minutes to 1 hour or more depending on your beans. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking water.

                                                                          Sear the dried chiles in a hot dry pan (not nonstick) for about 30 seconds on each side, pressing down with a spatula. Stem the chiles and remove the seeds. Place in a bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the soaking liquid. Puree the chiles and the soaking liquid in a food processor.

                                                                          In a large bowl, combine the oil, onions, garlic, chipotles, tomatoes, mustard, brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, Tabasco, pureed chiles and salt.

                                                                          Place the cooked beans in an ovenproof pot. Gently mix in the mixture from the bowl. Add enough bean cooking liquid to cover well (I used 1½ cups.)

                                                                          Cover and bake at 300 degrees for 3 1/2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure the beans aren’t getting too dried out – add more bean cooking liquid or hot water if they are.

                                                                          Taste and add additional salt if you feel it’s needed, and bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.

                                                                          Serve warm or at room temperature. (Note that the beans will thicken significantly as they cool, so if they are too dry, add more liquid and reheat.)

                                                                          1. Forgot to mention one more great idea - red beans and rice! Here's a great recipe to try:

                                                                            Vegan Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

                                                                            1 pound small red beans
                                                                            2 tablespoons olive oil
                                                                            1 large onion, diced
                                                                            6 cloves garlic
                                                                            3 medium green peppers
                                                                            chopped 3 stalks celery, chopped
                                                                            2 bay leaves
                                                                            ½ teaspoon ground sage
                                                                            1 teaspoon dried oregano
                                                                            2 chipotle peppers (from canned chipotles in adobo), finely chopped
                                                                            ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
                                                                            3 cups vegetable stock
                                                                            2-3 cups water
                                                                            1 tablespoon vegan and/or gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
                                                                            ½ cup chopped scallions, for garnish
                                                                            Cooked rice, for serving
                                                                            Tabasco sauce, for serving

                                                                            Soak the beans overnight, or use the quick soak method. Drain and set aside.

                                                                            Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot. Add the onion, garlic, peppers and celery. Sauté until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the beans, bay leaves, sage, oregano, chipotles, cayenne, stock, 2 cups of water and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender (this may take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours, depending on the age of your beans.) Add more water as needed to keep the beans from drying out; when dine, the mixture should be saucy yet slightly thick. If it seems too watery, mash a cup of the beans and stir back in. (The dish will also naturally thicken overnight if you are serving it the next day.)

                                                                            Remove the bay leaves and serve on rice, passing the Tabasco.

                                                                            1. I wonder if any of you know of other mail order bean retailers. I noticed than Rancho Gordo does now sell Anasazi beans, which I love. There have to be bean growers out West. Links and recs anyhone?

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                Phipps http://www.phippscountry.com/store.htm

                                                                                They have a ton of things showing as out of stock right now, don't know why -- but they belong on any list of bean sources anyway. I haven't bought from Phipps online before, only in their store.

                                                                                I originally posted the above in this thread, which has a couple of other recommendations:

                                                                              2. Here is how I do Lentils and Spinach

                                                                                1/2 C of soaked lentils, French green or Beluga preferred
                                                                                chicken broth
                                                                                4 C of washed and coarsely chopped spinach or a mixture of coarsely chopped spinach and mustard greens
                                                                                chopped onion
                                                                                minced garlic
                                                                                Mario's bacon crumbles, or freshly cooked and crumbled bacon
                                                                                a few tomatoes spooned out of a can of fire roasted tomatoes
                                                                                olive oil for sauteing

                                                                                1. Drain the lentils and place in small pot. Cover with chicken broth and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer till tender.

                                                                                2. Meanwhile heat about 1 T of olive oil in a large skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the chopped onion and cook for several minutes to soften. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a couple minutes more.

                                                                                3. Add the greens, turning them in the oil, and letting them settle in the pan. Lid the pan for a bit to allow the greens to steam.

                                                                                4. If necessary, remove the pan from the heat until the lentils are tender. When they are tender, drain and add them to the skillet with the greens.

                                                                                5. Mix, but not thoroughly. Add a few spoonfuls of the fire roasted canned tomatoes. Sprinkle the bacon crumbles over all.

                                                                                6. Serve with a vinegar based hot sauce. Enjoy.

                                                                                2 generous servings.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                  we like the fire roasted tomatoes, too.

                                                                                2. Love all the recipes in this thread! I am a vegetarian bean lover, but not a huge fan of super spicy food. There are lots of great Greek/Mediterranean dishes out there using chick peas (garbanzo beans), and Italian dishes using cannellini beans, kidney beans, etc.

                                                                                  I tried this recipe for Crockpot Greek Stuffed Peppers, and it was delicious. I added a little bit of lemon juice and would probably lower the cooking time or temperature next time. My meat-eating husband and inlaws loved it.

                                                                                  This is another favorite:
                                                                                  Pappardelle with Bean Bolognese Sauce (3 types of beans and butternut squash

                                                                                  A super fast and easy one-pot meal I've made is a box of Near East toasted pine nut couscous, a can of garbanzo beans, some sort of greens, and if you want, parmesan or feta on top. I make the couscous according to the package directions, adding the drained/rinsed garbanzos in with the couscous, and put the greens in just before serving so they wilt a bit.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: kyoules

                                                                                    those near east mixes are pretty darn handy, i agree.

                                                                                  2. I am another bean lover..I could live on them. A couple of suggestions which are favorites in this kitchen..White Bean (preferably cannellini) Risotto, classic Tuscan comfort food. My variation of Cuban Black Beans and RIce..Serve the black beans over Basmati rice, spoon over a nice fruity Salsa, I use a peach or mango salsa, to taste and top with a good quality shredded cheddar.

                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: grammywheels

                                                                                      i love cuban black bean soup. my mom made it while i was growing up in florida. she served it with chopped white onions on top, and we could add a splash of white vinegar, too -- or pepper vinegar. these days, i'll add some fresh salsa on top -- a pico de gallo -- and the texas pete's pepper vinegar. i never use cheese on top of cuban black bean soup though.

                                                                                      1. re: grammywheels

                                                                                        I made black bean soup tonight. It is so good. I like the salsa idea. A good hot sauce, like Cholula, is also good with this.

                                                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                          cholula is a great sauce, i agree. now they have some new varieties. http://www.cholula.com/products/origi...
                                                                                          have you tried the new ones?

                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                            I have the chili garlic in my pantry. I kissed baked fish with a little butter, and added a little Cholula. With it we had braised kale and white sweet potatoes. Very good. I like Cholula better than Tabasco, which to me tastes like vinegar and heat. Cholula has an actual flavor.

                                                                                            I used the regular on my very nice crunchy tacos at Chipotle yesterday.

                                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                              yes, cholula has depth and balance in flavor -- not just heat. i also like tapatío sauce. http://www.tapatiohotsauce.com/ which i discovered on the table of a small local mexican place in florida a few years back.

                                                                                              your fish recipe idea is a good one. your sauce would be good with some smoked mullet, too. some time try mixing a little guava puree with your cholula and hot butter, maybe a wee bit of mustard. i got this idea from "swamp mustard." http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/659069

                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                I'm sure cholula/guava puree would be quite good, but I have no idea where I'd find guavas. Maybe at WF.

                                                                                                I can't remember where I was discussing cooking garbanzos. I soaked them overnight and cooked them this morning in about 15 minutes in the PC, They are steeping in the cooking water now, and I need to chill them for tonight. I haven't decided exactly how I'm serving them, but it will be in conjunction with braised mustard greens, and probably a white sweet potato.

                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                  You can get guava paste in most supermarkets. Look in the ethnic section

                                                                                                  I mix guava paste and chipotle in adobo and blend them. I keep it as a staple condiment in my fridge.

                                                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                    you can also get guava jelly, like you'd spread on a sandwich.

                                                                                                    the paste is much thicker and not as sweet. "guayaba" is the spanish name of the guava, and that is often on the container -- a flat round can, like quince paste. http://www.walmart.com/ip/La-Costena-... http://www.amazon.com/Goya-Guava-Past...

                                                                                                    latin markets have it, and chains that cater to significant latin populations, like shoppers food warehouse in northern virginia. scubadoo is in florida, so it is more likely to be easily available in most supermarkets. (that makes me think to check our other local chains…i'll bet they have it, too).

                                                                                      2. just saw this vegetarian lebanese kibbeh stew with kidney beans, and it looks good: http://www.mamaslebanesekitchen.com/v...

                                                                                        1. I'm making this fried beans and sautéed greens dish for dinner tonight:


                                                                                          I'm using spinach and dandelion greens instead of swiss chard though, since that's what I have in the house.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: caseyjo

                                                                                            caseyjo, that looks very satisfying and tasty. i'd like to try it.

                                                                                            i've found, however, that canned cannellini are too soft -- in general. i imagine a soaked, dried and cooked cannellini bean would be much superior in this application. fwiw, here is some additional white bean info http://www.cookthink.com/reference/98...