Have you ever slow cooked dried beans and had them refuse to soften after hours of cooking? I have and it’s not fun.
I can remember more than a few occasions when that has happened to me. However, I think I now have the proper method for cooking perfect beans and I’m happy that I will no longer have to suffer through a sub-par bean dish!
“Most legumes range from 17 to 25% protein, roughly double the protein of grains and higher than that of eggs and most meats”. Rebecca Wood of The New Foods Encycolpedia
That’s a pretty substantial source of protein! I’ve been told that when you combine beans with whole grain rice it becomes a complete protein source for your body.
Dried beans are also very friendly to your grocery budget in comparison to meat alternatives (or even compared to canned beans). Dried beans cost only pennies to serve up to your family.
I have not had great success using the common practice of soaking the beans overnight (because I usually forget to do it!). I have also tried the quick soak method of bringing the water to a boil for 3 minutes then covering for 2 hours. However, even after this process, the beans still seem to require further cooking before they are ready to add to the slow cooker or dutch oven. I’ve found if you skip this step and your recipe contains acidic ingredients like tomatoes you may never have soft beans.
I now cook my dried beans using the following method:
Easiest Method to Cook Dried Beans
- 2 cups organic dried navy beans, cleaned well
- 10 cups water or homemade no-sodium chicken or veggie broth
- Add the dried beans and water (or broth) into the slow cooker
- Add half a strip of Kombu seaweed into the slow cooker (optional)
- Cook on high for 5-7 hours depending on how soft you like your cooked beans
Consider keeping some seaweed in the kitchen if you aren’t doing so already! Seaweed is a superfood that many people may be missing out on. It’s super simple to toss into the slow cooker and your beans will absorb the benefits. You can pick up a package of the seaweed (called ‘Kombu’) at your local health food store. It also has another great benefit – it can help break down the sugars that cause gas and bloating!
By using this simple hands off method I can easily make 4 cups of cooked beans in the slow cooker. When the time is up, they are ready for my recipe (or to freeze). I’ll often use 2 cups immediately and freeze the rest for some quick protein at a later date!
This specific method doesn’t require soaking, but if you prefer to soak your beans
, you can cut down the cooking time in the slow cooker and still follow the recipe. Just keep an eye on your beans and remove them when they reach your desired softness.
Here is a simple bean recipe that I love preparing for my family. I add bacon to the dish but you can always omit to make the dish vegetarian or vegan.
Stovetop Sage Beans
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ¼ cups chopped onions
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 4 bacon slices, diced & cooked to desired crispness
- 1 ½ cups pureed canned organic whole tomatoes (I blitzed in the blender for a second)
- 5 fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn
- ⅓ tsp ground sage
- ⅓ tsp sea salt
- 2 cups cooked navy beans (or 2 cups canned organic navy beans-drained & rinsed)
- Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium-sized dutch oven or pot with a tight-fitting lid and warm over medium-low heat
- Add chopped onions and continue to saute until soft
- Add garlic and saute until fragrant, making sure not to burn the garlic
- Add puree tomatoes, basil leaves, ground sage & sea salt
- Stir mixture to combine well
- Simmer for a few minutes then add the cooked beans
- Stir mixture well to combine, add lid and simmer on low for 25 minutes
- Mix half of the cooked bacon into the beans
- Scoop into serving bowls and top with the remaining bacon and cheese of choice (optional!- I add this for my hubby who eats dairy)
These simple beans make an excellent dish served with olives, fresh greens and a glass of red wine.
Do you have a favourite method for cooking dried beans? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Until next time,