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Beans

Beans, Peas and Lentils

Dried beans, peas and lentils — a.k.a. legumes or pulses — are a vital food source and one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops. Evidence of cultivation goes back more than 7,000 years in some parts of the world.

An excellent source of protein, dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates, legumes and pulses are flavorful, nutritionally dense, inexpensive and versatile.

Dried beans, peas and lentils are simply mature beans that are dried and then removed from their pods

Bean: Cooking Tips

Cooking dried beans takes more time than opening a can, but you’ll be richly rewarded with superior flavor and texture. They’re a superb value too! Here’s how:

1. Sort: Arrange dried beans on a sheet pan or clean kitchen towel and sort through them to pick out any shriveled or broken beans, stones or debris.
2. Rinse: Rinse the sorted beans well in cold, running water.
3. Soak: Soaking beans before cooking helps to remove some of those indigestible sugars that cause flatulence. There are two simple ways to get the job done:
* Regular soak: Put beans into a large bowl or pot and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cool, clean water. Set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight; drain well.
* Quick soak: Put beans into a large pot and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cool, clean water. Bring to a boil then boil briskly for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and set aside off of the heat for 1 hour; drain well.
4. Cook: Put beans into a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water or stock. Slowly bring to a boil, skimming off any foam on the surface. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary, until beans are tender when mashed or pierced with a fork. Cooking times vary with the variety, age and size of beans; generally you’re looking at about 1 to 2 hours.

Pea and Lentil: Cooking Tips
Sort and rinse dried peas and lentils as you would dried beans. Bring 1½ cups water or stock to a boil for each cup of dried lentils or peas. Once the liquid is boiling add the lentils or peas, return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

Cooking Tip: Uncooked dried peas and lentils can be added directly to soups and stews, just be sure there’s enough liquid in the pot (about 1½ cups of liquid for every 1 cup of lentils or peas).

Beans, Peas and Lentils 101
· Adzuki Beans
These small dark red beans are sweet and easy to digest.
· Anasazi Beans
This burgundy and white heirloom variety is popular in Southwestern recipes — especially soups. They make an excellent substitute for pinto beans.
· Black Turtle Beans
Excellent in salads and soups.
· Black-Eyed Peas
These creamy white, oval-shaped beans are soft, quick-cooking and ubiquitous in southeastern US states where they’re a traditional New Year’s dish.
· Cannellini Beans
These smooth-textured beans are packed with nutty flavor.
· Garbanzo Beans/Chickpeas
This prominent ingredient in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and East Indian dishes has a mild but hearty flavor. Garbanzos are excellent at absorbing strong spices like curry powder, cumin and cayenne pepper.
· Flageolet Beans
Pronounced “flah-JOH-lay”this creamy heirloom bean is used in French country cuisine as a side dish where their delicate flavor is enhanced by aromatic onions, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves and thyme.
· Great Northern Beans
These are the largest commonly available white bean, but they’re all soft and mild on the inside.
· Green Lentils/French Lentils
These lentils hold their shape well and have deep, rich flavor. They’re an excellent addition to salads, spicy Indian dal or simple lentils and rice.
· Green Split Peas
Split peas shine in soups where they’re cooked until creamy to bring out their full, sweet flavor.
· Kidney Beans
These large, red beans are popular in chili, salads, soups and baked beans. Make sure to cook them until completely tender and cooked through to eliminate the gastric distress-causing toxin Phytohaemagglutinin (Kidney Bean Lectin) that’s present in raw and undercooked kidney beans.
· Lima Beans
Rich and delicious lima beans are perfect when added to minestrone and other soups or combine them with corn and green beans for succotash.
· Lupini Beans
Technically a member of the pea family, these flat, coin-shaped, dull yellow seeds are second only to soybeans in plant protein content. Allow for a long soaking period and extended cooking time to reduce their potential for bitterness.
· Mung Beans
Mung beans are known for their sprouts, but the beans themselves are revered as a healing food. They range in color from greenish-brown to yellow to black and have delicate, sweet flavor. They need no pre-soaking, cook quickly and are easy to digest.
· Pinto Beans
A favorite in Southwest and Mexican dishes, these earthy beans have a delicious, creamy texture ideal for refrying.
· Red Beans
These small, dark red beans are subtly sweet and hold their shape when cooked. They make a great choice for soups and chili and as a companion to rice.
· Red Lentils
Red lentils cook quickly and don’t hold their shape so they’re best in soups or purées or cooked until creamy.
· Split Peas
Split peas don’t require presoaking and their mild flavor and creamy texture make good companions to garlic, onions, dill, curry and ginger.

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