How to Cook Dried Beans From Scratch and Ways to Use Them
We are deep into autumn. With summer at an end and cooler days coming, a pot of comforting beans simmering on the back burner warms the kitchen and soothes the spirit as only home cooking can.
On this page, my easy recipe for cooking dried black beans from scratch--no soaking involved!
Following that, I'll show you some of the ways we use our pot of dried beans throughout the week to make delicious, eye-appealing, healthy vegetarian meals, each one different from the last.
I'll also share some equipment and recipe ideas to make cooking and serving these beans a breeze.
Cook up a Batch of Dried Beans on the Weekend
Use your cooked beans all week long in breakfast burritos, lunchbox wraps, and quick vegetarian suppers.
You don't need to soak them overnight. Just clean them, pop them into a pot of boiling water, turn them down to simmer, and in two or three hours, you have nutritional, healthy beans rich in proteins and B vitamins.
Eat them plain. Dress them up with fresh veggies. Pop them into soups, stew or casseroles. No matter how you cook them, they're good.
Several of the suggestions on this page call for a little cheese. Make these dishes vegan with your favorite cheese substitutes.
The photo shows what I'm cooking today: a mixture of pinto and black beans. You can mix beans however you like, and pintos and blacks go especially well together.
A Sturdy Cast-Iron Bean Pot Heats Evenly
While you can prepare beans in any sturdy pot that has a tight-fitting lid, I prefer my cast iron bean pot. I've had it since my oldest child was a baby. She's in her forties now! They last forever.
Mine came with a glass lid that broke during one of our moves. Fortunately, Lodge sells parts. No glass lid this time, but a solid cast iron one that will never break.
Cast iron is easy to care for. I wash mine in hot soapy water, rinse well, and pat dry with a clean cotton towel. If it appears the seasoning has worn off in places, I rub a little olive oil into the area that needs it. Not too much, just a little, like rubbing a bit of lotion on your skin.
Recipe: Dried Beans From Scratch
It's so easy to make healthy black beans from scratch. I often make a batch, use half for dinner that night and freeze the other half. The beauty of this method is that you can make beans anytime you have two or three hours lead time.
Most canned beans contain lots of salt and fat. I make mine plain, without salt or oil. If a recipe calls for beans with fat and salt, I add it then, and just enough to suit our tastes.
For faster cooking, if you want to add fat or seasoning to your beans, add them only after the beans are completely tender.
- Prep time: 10 min
- Cook time: 2 hours
- Ready in: 2 hours 10 min
- Yields: 8 cups
- 2 C whole organic dried black beans, washed
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- Bring 4 cups water to full boil in heavy saucepan or bean pot.
- Meanwhile, wash, drain and sort the beans, checking for pebbles and other debris. (No need to soak.)
- Slowly add beans to boiling water, a spoonful at a time, so the water does not stop boiling. A large slotted spoon works well for this.
- Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until tender, approximately 2 hours.
- Serve with crudites and pico de gallo, cole slaw or a tossed green salad. Delicious warm straight from the pot, sprinkled with grated cheese. Refrigerate remainder for up to 6 days, or freeze.
Eat Fresh-Cooked Beans Straight From the Bean Pot
A favorite treat on bean-cooking day is to eat fresh beans straight from the pot. They are so full of flavor just then!
I fill a ramekin with beans for each of us and top it with a dollop of my basic five-minute yogurt-cheese dip, which we almost always have on hand. Sometimes, we will scarf that cup of goodness standing up at the kitchen workbench.
Usually, we make a meal of it, serving the beans with a slice of crusty homemade bread and a dish of cole slaw or a tossed green salad.
Six Ways to Incorporate Black Beans Into Your Diet—So Good!
I use black beans so many ways, I'm sure I'll add to this list half a dozen times before I remember them all. As a complete-protein legume that is also rich in iron, B vitamins and anti-oxidants, cooked black beans add both fiber and nutrient value to almost any dish.
- Garnish a tossed salad with a handful of well-drained black beans for an extra protein boost. They stand out prettily against the greens and colorful vegetables, don't you think?
- Toss a spoonful of beans into your homemade breakfast burrito before heading out the door in the morning.
- Mash a cupful of beans and use as the glue to hold a veggie wrap together.
- Sauté garlic, red or yellow onion, minced jalapeno pepper in olive oil, add a cup or two of beans and mash together with the vegetables while hot. Top with grated cheese and serve as a dip with chips, as a side dish with tacos, or as the main ingredient in healthy burritos. All good. See the photo below!
- Leftover pasta? Throw a little tomato sauce, onion, tri-color bell peppers and a cup or two of beans into a saucepan. Simmer together until all the flavors meld. Add your favorite spices and serve with warm stone-ground corn tortillas or crusty artisan bread.
- Throw a few cupfuls of cooked beans in your favorite tomato-based soups.
Try These Beans in My Easy Cheesy Bean Dip Recipe
The Lodge pans come pre-seasoned, so all you have to do is wash the travel dust off and start cooking. Cast iron is super easy to clean. Some folks don't believe in washing them, but I wash mine. When they are well seasoned, they do not stick, and you can pat them dry with a dish towel without smudging it.
This Miniature Skillet Caramelizes Peppers and Garlic Beautifully
For quick bean dips, or for added flavor when I'm making just one or two veggie wraps, I like to caramelize minced peppers, onion and garlic. Do you?
It takes just a minute to heat a 5-inch skillet and another minute or two to caramelize minced garlic and jalapeno in a teaspoon or less of extra virgin olive oil.
Why waste gas (or electricity) heating a huge pan when you can do a faster job with a small one? These little pans are wonderful for toasting pine nuts or frying a single egg, too.
Use This Method to Cook Almost Any Dried Bean
The taste of cooked dried beans is so far superior to that of canned, that we much prefer them at our house. It's the difference between truly satisfying food and ho-hum.
There is one bean I won't bother to buy in cans at all, and that is garbanzos. This dried bean cooking recipe works equally well for garbanzos, pinto beans, kidney beans and white cannellini beans. They are so good when cooked from dried, that I can't imagine enjoying them from a can ever again. The taste difference is amazing.
Buy dried beans in bulk at your local co-op or organic store, and you will save even more. Sometimes, the very best flavor and goodness comes from the least expensive option.
What to Keep in Your Pantry, So You Can Make Bean Dishes Any Time
With a variety of dried beans on hand, you can cook up a batch or two on the weekend for use in quick breakfast omelets and burritos, luncheon wraps, appetizers and main dishes all week long.
These are the dried beans and other foods always in my pantry for homemade-good meals every day.
- Dried black beans
- Dried pinto beans
- Dried garbanzos
- Dried white cannellini beans
- Fresh onion—red, yellow, white and green for cooking and for garnishes
- Fresh whole bulbs of garlic—for flavoring your bean dishes
- Fresh limes—for adding a little piquant flavor, as well as trace nutrients that help our bodies absorb the iron and magnesium in dried beans
- Sea salt to bring out the beans' flavor
- Olive oil for moistening and enriching, although we use this very sparingly and quite often not at all in our beans
- A variety of sweet and spicy peppers to add color and vibrancy to your bean dishes
- A variety of flavorful cheeses to add smooth texture and subtle flavors to your beans
- Chipotle powder for those times you need some heat and there's not one jalapeno in sight
- Canned, frozen or fresh-made tomato and spaghetti sauces (it's easier than you might think to make your own!)
© 2014 Kathryn Grace