Beans and legumes are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They’re also a good source of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat. With no fat or cholesterol, another important feature is that they are full of fiber.
The best and most economical way to buy beans is dried.
First off, you will need to sort through the dried beans or legumes – sometimes there are tiny rocks mixed in.
Next you will need to presoak – beans. I like to them soak overnight – I rinse them at this point and get rid of any “floaters”. Just put the amount of beans you intend to use in a pot and fill the pot with water. Swish them around and pick the floaters off the top. I usually rinse three times.
Let the beans soak at least 8 hours or overnight. Soaking allows the beans to cook more evenly.
After the soaking is done; Drain off the water and rinse one last time. Fill up the pot with cold water and start the cooking process on the stove. At this point you can add a hamhock, onions, garlic, etc. Once the beans are fork tender but still a bit crunchy, add carrots, celery, potatoes.
Add the salt at the very end when the beans are done – adding salt the salt before the beans are done prevents the absorbing of liquid and the surface of the beans peel and curl; they do not turn out soft and tender.
Legumes are quicker cooking, for instance lentils and dried peas are done in 30 to 40 minutes.
Rinse them as you would dried beans. Pick through them and removed the floaters. I put them in a strainer and rinse for a good thirty second under running water.
Last night I made lentil soup with barley. It took about 40 minutes from start to finish. I added a clove of garlic, about half a small onion, chicken broth for the liquid and let it simmer. Filling, delicious and nutritious.