Not until I started watching some of Mark Bittman's NY Times videos, praising to the high heavens, home cooked beans. He is one of my favorite cook book authors; he makes cooking simple and accessible. He convinced me that I did not need to soak the beans. An overnight soak may cut cooking time by 30 minutes.
An hour and a half later, I had perfectly texture salted beans. It was a low effort low attention preparation too, meaning for those that multi-task, you can work on other home activities! Bonus. The trick is to make a lot, more than one serving, and to freeze whatever you don't expect to use in the next few days. So I now have eight cups of beans in four quart sized bags. Now, I just need to know what I'm going to cook on any given day so that I can have the where with all to bring out one of those bags to defrost!
After preparing, you can either freeze them in their juice or store them in the fridge for 3-6 days. Two days later, I made bean puree which truly rivals mashed potatoes. They are just as tasty, if not tastier, and so much healthier. These will not make your glycemic index shoot through the roof.
I decided to pair the bean puree with a wonderful kale stir fry. I'm on a kale kick since it's one of those bang for your buck foods. Healthful and value laden in so many ways. The only modification I made is that I added the bread crumbs at the end. I pushed the kale to one side of the pan, dropped a tiny bit of olive oil, and then toasted the bread crumbs so that they were brown and crispy, and then proceeded to mix in the kale. This dish was a hit. Combined with the bean puree, you have very healthy comfort food!
Basic Beans from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
Time: 30 minutes to 2 hours, largely unattended
-Any quantity of dried beans
1. Place beans in large port with water to cover. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil; skim foam if necessary. Turn heat down so the beans simmer. Cover loosely.
2. Cook stirring occasionally, until the beans begin to become tender; add about 1 tsp salter per 1/2 pound of beans, or to taste.
3. Continue to cook, stirring gently, until beans are as tender as you lik; add additional water if necessary. Drain and serve, or use in other recipes, or store covered, in their cooking liquid, in the fridge (3 days) or freezer (3 months).
I checked on the beans every 30 minutes. Different beans, even of the same type, cook differently depending on how old they are etc. One night, I cooked one white bean and after 30 minutes, they were still very very firm. Another night, I tried another white beans, and after 30 minutes, they were tender. So watch out so you can control texture.
White Bean Puree
Makes 4 servings
Time: 10 minutes with precooked beans
-3 cups drained cooked or canned navy or other white bean
-1 cup bean cooking liquid, or chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
-3 T butter
-Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Puree the beans by putting the through a food mill or using a blender (I have a great blender but found that the food processor is best); add as much liquid as you need to make a smooth but not water puree
2. Place in microwave-proof dish or medium non-stick pan along with the butter. Heat gently until the butter melts and the beans are hot; season with salt and pepper.