When you’re in the mood for a stick-to-your ribs, comforting meal, beans do not disappoint. And let me tell you, this simple concoction of spicy-sweet, nourishing Christmas lima and black beans is sure to satisfy even the most picky eaters. It stores and reheats well and would be great as a potluck dish or served with some steamed vegetables or a simple salad for a quick dinner.
You can use any combination of beans, but I love the texture of Christmas limas in this dish. Using all black beans works well or a combination of kidney, black and garbanzo. Use your fav combo and work with what you have around – you can’t go wrong!
I found these beautiful limas at the National Heirloom Exposition Chili Smith Family Foods stand. They sell nearly 30 varieties of heirloom beans grown in Northern California. I’ve tried this variety before and couldn’t resist snagging the last bag along with some scarlet runners. These beans are top quality, flavorful and packed with nutrition.
Cookin’ the perfect bean
Sure you could use canned beans, which are great when you’re in a hurry, but cookin’ from scratch is where it’s at, and you’re not going to find the beautiful variety of heirloom beans available in a can. There’s also no can lining leaching who-knows-what into your beans. Plus you can season them to your taste, no worries about excessive sodium or whatever else they’re canning beans in these days. Dried beans are also super cheap – perfect for a tight budget.
Now that I’ve convinced you to cook your own beans from scratch, lets cover how to cook these babies—it’s all about the soak. No really.
Soaking makes beans easier to digest. Soaked beans also cook faster – which is great for a time-crunched cook.
To save even more time, start making your beans from scratch in large batches. I like to make 1-2 pounds at a time. Freeze the extra in 2 cup portions (roughly the amount in a 14.5 oz. can) and you’re all prepped for numerous super quick and beany meals. You can do this with your grains too, by the way, and most of the time neither needs to be thawed in advance.
- Pick out any icky looking, shriveled beans, rinse and soak for 12-24 hours. They will expand quite a bit during this time so use an appropriate sized pot and cover the beans with several inches of water.
- You can dump the water and rinse them once or twice during the soak if you have time. Some folks say this helps reduce the gas causing starches even more. I only do this if I remember and have time. I personally have not noticed a difference.
- When you’re ready to cook your beans dump out the soaking water, rinse well and cover with a couple of inches of fresh water.
- Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and skim off any foam. Add a chunk of kombu seaweed to the simmering water – this boosts the flavor and also the digestibility. Don’t add any salt yet as this will cause the skins to remain tough and burst.
- Set a timer for 30-45 minutes and start checking for doneness every 10 minutes or so. Cooking time depends on the type of bean your cooking. An adzuki bean is going to cook much faster than a garbanzo bean. When their almost done add some salt for seasoning.
- When your beans are all cooked up, let them sit in their cooking liquid—an hour if you can. A lot of nutrition has leached out into the water during cooking, but by letting the beans sit after cooking will allow them to reabsorb some of the nutrition. And if you’re making a soup or stew, don’t let that cooking liquid go to waste, us it in place of or added to your stock.
- To store the unused portion, drain them well and let them cool completely. Transfer to freezer-safe containers or bags in two-cup portions, labeled with contents and date (trust me, you will not remember a month from now) and chuck in the freezer.
Now when you have a recipe that calls for a can of beans, just remove one portion to thaw or, in many cases, they can go directly from freezer to pan.
So now that you know how to make perfect beans from scratch, what’s stopping you from enjoying some heirloom beauties of your own? But whether you cook you beans from scratch or use a couple cans that you have in your pantry – make these barbeque beans – you won’t be sorry.