Tuesday Tip(s): Beans, Kale & Saute Onions

Things have been crazy for us here on the farm.  We’re in the middle of finishing our house and if anyone has any experience with this, you know how chaotic things can get towards the end!  Last minute changes, plumbing, unexpected surprises, and Moroccan-style tiling has our house upside down, full of loud banging, flying cement, plaster and curious cats (just the cement and plaster are flying, the cats are safely on the ground – most of the time).

Long story short, I’ve been too busy to write a new post but here are 3 quick cooking techniques that have revolutionized my health.

1. Raw tenderized kale

One of my absolute favorite dishes that I never get tired of, here’s a great 25 second video that shows you how to do this.

**Since tenderized kale shrinks down significantly and processed fats (in this case olive oil) should be kept to a minimum, I normally use 1 tsp. per 1 to 2 servings.  2 tablespoons for the the amount of kale used in the video is way too much but this technique is an invaluable one!!

2. Saute onions… in water??!

Yes, it’s doable and delicious.  Maybe you don’t want to do this for a decadent weekend meal but this is an easy way to improve you and your family’s health daily without compromising on taste.

** This video from Jane Thompson starts the saute with a little bit of water in the very beginning while I personally start with a hot dry pan and wait until the onions begin to stick.  I think both ways work and it’s something you can easily experiment with.  The secret is to use very very little water.

3. How to boil perfect beans

I’ve tried A lot of recipes to get the perfect beans and this way has never failed me.  Of course cooking time depends on the type of bean and how old they are but this is the only thing that varies in this perfect how-to.  You can read the entire article here from The Kitchn.

** Number 5 is key to your success!

{Photo courtesy from The Kitchn's How to Cook Beans on the Stove}

{Photo courtesy from The Kitchn’s How to Cook Beans on the Stove}

Instructions

1. Soak the beans overnight. The night before you plan to cook (10-14 hours), soak the beans to reduce cooking time and help them cook more evenly. Empty the dry beans in a bowl. Pick through the beans and discard any shriveled or unappealing beans. Cover the beans with a few inches of water and leave them on the counter.

2. Drain the soaked beans. The next day, the beans will have absorbed much of the water and nearly doubled in size. Drain the beans from their soaking water and rinse them gently under water.

3. Transfer beans to a cooking pot. Transfer the beans to a Dutch oven or other heavy cooking pot. Add the aromatics, if using.

4. Bring the beans to a boil. Cover the beans with an inch of water. Bring them to a boil over medium-high heat.

5. Reduce to a simmer and cook. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and bring the beans to a very gentle simmer. You should barely see the water moving. Leave the lid off for firm beans meant for cold salads and pasta dishes. Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar for creamier beans for soups, casseroles, and burritos. (Learn More: Leaving the Lid On Vs. Off When Cooking Beans)

6. Cook the beans. Cook the beans for one hour, and then begin checking for doneness. Depending on their age, size, and variety, beans can take anywhere from an hour to three hours to cook through. Be patient. Keep the beans a gentle simmer and taste frequently as they start to become tender. Add more water as needed to keep the beans submerged, and stir occasionally.

7. Add the salt when beans are just barely tender. When beans are tender but still too firm to enjoy eating, add the salt. Adding the salt too early can keep the beans from becoming tender. Continue simmering until the beans are as tender and creamy as you like them. Add more salt to taste.

8. Cool and store the beans. Cool the beans in their cooking liquid and transfer to refrigerator containers, still with their cooking liquid. Beans will keep for one week refrigerated or can be frozen for up to three months.

Additional Notes:

Dry vs. Canned Amounts: One pound of dry beans makes about five cups of cooked beans, equivalent to about 3 cans of canned beans.

Cooking Beans for Soup: If you intend to use your beans in a soup, it’s best to slightly undercook them here and then finish cooking them in the soup itself.

The Cooking Liquid: Don’t pour it down the drain! Unlike the slimy liquid from canned beans, this cooking liquid is full of flavor and good nutrients. Once you’ve scooped up all your beans, this liquid makes a great base for soups and quick sauces.

Let me know how these come out for you and if you guys have any tricks and tips of your own you’d like to share!  See you next Tuesday!  ;)

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