Legumes

Canned legumes should be avoided. They are high in sodium, contain preservatives, and the can lining is harmful for health. Also, a toxic metal – aluminum – leaches from the cans into food and contributes to Alzheimer’s diseases.

Dry legumes, except lentils, require soaking in water for about 8 hours. Red lentils do not require soaking at all. Soaking dark (green, brown and black) lentils for at least 4 hours is not a must, but is a great advantage, because they cook faster and taste better. If you do not soak them, cooking time will be longer. Always rinse out your legumes before and after soaking. Give them much more water than the level of the legumes, they expand their volume significantly. When cooking, keep them on a high flame in an open pot for the first 10 minutes, scoop the foam out, cover the pot, and lower the flame. They do not require much attention, but check on them occasionally and add water, if required.

Cooking times:

• beans: 40 minutes to an hour. A few times my red kidney and pinto beans were not getting cooked for about two hours and split peas were not getting cooked for about three hours. I noticed that this happens depending on the source of the beans rather than the kind. The next time I simply buy them from a different source;

• chickpeas: 30-45 minutes;

• split peas: about an hour;

• lentils: red – 20-30 minutes without soaking, brown and green: 20 minutes after soaking and about 45 minutes to an hour without soaking.

At first, soaking and cooking legumes may seem time consuming, but it is actually not. Do not get discouraged, give it a chance and you will see that they may fit nicely in the most busy schedule. You can soak your beans or chickpeas overnight, and the first thing in the morning rinse them out and cook them, and they should be done by the time you get ready for work. This way you will have part of your dinner ready when you come back. You may also soak them in the morning and go to work. Put them on the first thing when you come back and by the time you change your clothes, wash your makeup off, check your voice mail or talk to your partner, they will be almost done. I soak my beans and chickpeas overnight, put them on the first thing in the morning and cook while getting ready to run. I turn them off when they are still slightly hard and let them sit. By the time I come back, they are done. I never leave the gas burner on while away.

If you like to watch TV, cooking beans fits perfectly in this pastime. Put the beans on and check on them during commercial breaks.

I recommend cooking large amounts of legumes, dividing them into smaller portions and freezing in glass containers. It is very useful when a recipe calls for only two or three cups.

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