What if we told you that beans were magic?
Sure, pulses are thrifty. Plus they’re packed with protein and fibre. Add to that, we know that having a few more vegie-based meals is a good thing for the planet. But; did you know that if you cook up one big pot of beans, you can eat like a king for the rest of the week?
It’s true. This is no fairy tale and our name isn’t Jack. Welcome to the world of magic beans.
Where do I find dried beans?
You can buy beans loose in buckets in the store, or in bags. Half a kilo of dried Great Northern white beans will cost you about $2.80. If you cook those 500 g of dried beans, you’ll end up with about 1.3 kg of cooked beans to play with, which will set you up nicely.
How do I cook a batch of beans?
There’s a lot of unnecessary folklore around cooking beans, mainly to do with soaking them. Yes, you can soak beans overnight (if you remember to). Soaked beans will be swifter to cook and may be a bit easier to digest. If you forget to soak them, you can always do what is known as a ‘quick soak’, or ‘power soak’. To do a quick soak add 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans, bring the beans to the boil, boil for a minute, then allow them to sit in the water, covered for an hour. You can then drain them and rinse them in cold water and cook as if they were soaked overnight.
Or, if you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, you can also cook them straight from dry.
To cook your beans take 500 g of them and give them a good rinse. Add to a large pot and cover with water by at least 10 cm. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid off for between 45 minutes – 2 hours, until the beans are tender. You’ll want to check on them every now and again. The length of time to cook them will vary, depending on the freshness of the bean. Afterwards they will keep in the fridge for three to five days.
You can also cook soaked beans happily in a slow cooker, covered by 10 cm of water for 2-4 hours on high, or 4-6 hours on low.
What can I do with them?
What can’t you do with them?
1) Lob them into salads and stews.
2) Puree them and use as a lower GI substitute for mashed potato, or add chopped cabbage, kale or spring onion and use as a substitute for champ, which is great with sausages, or roast mushrooms.
3) Smush them and try them as a base for vegie burgers. Combine your cooked white beans with white miso, roast cashews and macadamias for some crunch, then crust them in sesame seeds and serve in buns with kimchi mayo, rocket and smashed avo. Recipe here.
4) Bake with them. Yes, that’s right, you can even use them to make a cake. Turns out that white beans, when combined with rice flour, eggs, raspberry and rosewater make an oh-so-easy, nut, dairy and gluten free, loaf which can be made in a few minutes in a blender. Recipe here.
5) Blend them into a puree with parsley, lemon, parmesan and marinated artichokes and use it as either a dip for grissini, or a delicious base for a dinner of crispy salmon with green beans and shaved fennel. Recipe here.
6) Get cheesey with them. You can make yourself a white bean parmi, by combining them with nuggets of roast eggplant, cherry tomatoes, passata and an indulgent quantity of melted mozzarella. Just top with shaved zucchini, parmesan and basil. Recipe here.
7) Be thrifty with them. You could use them to help bulk out the ultimate frugal pasta, pasta e fagioli. This version uses a little bacon, kale, beans and garlic and is a great way to use all the odd bits of leftover dried pasta you have bobbing around in the pantry. Recipe here.
Fee fi fo fum…Yum.