Friday, October 05, 2007


Beans, beans, beans – wonderful little packages of goodness! With summer just around the corner the green varieties are sneaking into the stores but for now I am returning to basics and reacquainting myself with cooking dried beans from scratch. As much as I love the convenience of the organic canned varieties, despite all the rinsing the precooked ones always have sweetness to them. For a while vacuum packed, cooked beans in the QuickPulse range were available in the supermarket refrigerator. But I guess, despite it being a better tasting product the mass produced tins won out at the checkout.

If you want to cook your own beans, I heartily recommend investing in a pressure cooker. I got mine from a garage sale, in Toorak no less, for about $10 a decade or so ago. This was a barely used stainless steel job, with no exploding valves. Just give the dodgy old aluminium ones in the op shops a miss. While pressure cooking doesn’t mean you skip the soaking stage, it does cut down the cooking time and eliminate the odd burnt bean accident that has happened to me in the past when I’ve cooked conventionally. This way it’s easy to soak the beans in the morning before leaving for work and then just change the water before throwing them in the pressure cooker when you get home. Once the beast has built up a head of steam I tend to cook cannellini for about 30-35 minutes and chickpeas (garbanzo) for 45 minutes.

Do a double batch of beans because they freeze well and are great in casseroles and dips. Though I’d stick to the freshly cooked ones for use in salads.

Some great bean dishes.

White bean salad with tuna, parsley, tomato and garlic.
White bean puree with olive oil, salt and garlic
Hummus, or any bean dip with tahini, lemon and garlic
Bean stews/casseroles
Provencal: in a tomato, onion, garlic base with olives, fresh herbs and vegetables
Chilli: with those sweet Hungarian peppers for a change
Classic baked beans: with tomato and sweetness, such as maple syrup
Falafels: though the chickpea is a classic, this is the only way I like fresh broad (fava) beans.

How do you like your beans?

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Blogger Truffle said...

I love your bean ideas!

I adore white beans paired with duck, sometimes in a really good cassoulet!

I also think they work beautifully in stews or soups with cubed pancetta.

A good chickpea curry with a dollop of raita is probably my favourite though!

10:12 am  

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