I think bean dishes are super delicious. I like them best when the beans keep their shape during the cooking process and have a creamy interior with a velvety quality. As of late I have been cooking beans with different methods and treating them like they are the super star ingredient.
First of all, I prefer locally sourced beans. With such there is a better chance to learn about growing and harvesting procedures. Also, in this way I can get an idea of how long the beans were kept in storage. I like it to be no longer than 6 -8 months. I think the texture and flavor tends to be better compared to years-old beans the supermarkets sell.
I make sure to soak the beans in water overnight, then rinse them with tap water. When it comes to cooking, as a rule of thumb I combine 1 cup of dry beans with 4 cups of cold water. For flavoring I add kombu seaweed and spices such as cumin, coriander and smoked paprika powder. The beans are brought to a boil, and after that I change the heat setting to medium so the beans can simmer gently to the point where they're soft but still have the skin holding its shape.
If you are short on time there is a quicker way to cook beans. Cover the beans with water in the ratio of 5 cups of water to 1 cup of dry beans and boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and soak for 2 hours. After that, strain the beans in a colander and rinse with tap water. Put beans back in the pot and add 5 cups cold water per the original 1 cup of dry beans.
Soaking and cooking beans in that way will eliminate much of the oligosaccharides, which are complex sugars that cannot be digested by our stomach enzymes. They cause the infamous bloating after-effect of eating beans. These sugars get in the intestines where bacteria eat them and produce gas.
Bean dish of the moment
I always thought it was fun having different beans in one dish; the tricky part is that most beans have slightly different cooking times, so to keep the texture of the beans ideal I have been cooking them in multiple pots, in addition to simply roasting edamame in a skillet. The following recipe should be an inspirational guideline—feel free to try out a variety of beans for different flavor and texture combinations.
Three Bean & Kale Stew
(recipe yields 4 entrée portions)
2 cups dry kidney beans
2 cups dry cranberry beans
1 sheet, approximately 5"x5" kombu seaweed
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons vinegar, such as apple cider, brown rice or plum vinegar
2 cups frozen edamame beans, shelled
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed, chopped into 1” pieces and rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as sunflower seed or grapeseed oil
Black pepper from the mill
Extra virgin olive oil
1) Cook each bean variety in its own pot. Add paprika, coriander, cumin, kombu and water.
2) Once the beans are soft, season with salt, vinegar, and maple syrup. Move beans to the side of the stove and steep for 20 minutes.
3) Heat a skillet on high heat, add edamame into the dry skillet and cook for one minute, then add oil, garlic and kale. Continue to cook for 5 minutes longer, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
4) Strain beans through a colander, reserving the cooking liquid.
5) In a pot combine beans and edamame/kale mix, then season with olive oil. Add bean cooking liquid in small amounts to the mixture so it matches your desired texture. Add more liquid if you like a soupy texture, less if you prefer it to be more of a stew.
Chef’s Note: The bean dish is totally satisfying on its own, but if you like it to be more substantial try it with roasted meat or fish dishes.