Happy Memorial Day weekend! The red, white and blue table decorations, flags and dinnerware are on display. Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have died serving in our county’s armed forces and the remembrance usually involves a get-together with food.
Wonder what makes those old-fashioned baked bean recipes so flavorful? Making your own baked beans requires a few more steps than opening a can, but it’s worth it.
Recently I have been experimenting making dried beans myself. I started with chickpeas, or garbanzo, and made a simple tomato, garlic and chickpea salad. I found them to be easy to make and worth the extra step.
Beans are a great source of protein, fiber, iron and zinc. For just a little money, you get a whole lot of nutrition and it’s a plant protein, which is environmentally friendly. Dried beans are less expensive than canned beans and do not have any added salt.
The extra step when using dried beans is to reconstitute them. If you are short on time, use the methods that require heat. If you have time, and refrigerator space, use the overnight soak method. Choose the method that best fits your time schedule and refrigerator space.
To begin, first rinse the beans and pick remove any damaged beans, small stones or dirt. Next, choose the right pot, one that is big enough. Most beans will rehydrate to triple their dry size, so be sure to start with a large enough pot to fit three times the amount. Two cups of dry beans yields 4 to 5 cups of cooked beans.
Here are the soaking methods:
Hot Soak: Hot soaking helps reduce intestinal gas. For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups hot water; heat to boiling and let boil two to three minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for up to four hours.
Quick Soak: For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups hot water; heat to boiling and let boil two to three minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour.
Overnight Soak: For each pound (2 cups) dry beans, add 10 cups cold water and let soak overnight, or at least eight hours in the refrigerator.
Once the beans are reconstituted, the next step is to cook them. Drain the beans and cover with fresh, cold water (if you skip this step the beans will be more flatulent). Simmer until tender. Now they are ready to be used just as if they were canned. Note: add other ingredients after the beans are cooked. If you add tomatoes and vinegar before, they will prevent the beans from becoming tender.
Here is a recipe for an easy to make appetizer. Start with dried (or canned) white beans. Remember, you can freeze any reconstituted beans that are left over.
White Bean Bruschetta
1 whole-wheat French baguette, cut into 12 thin slices along the bias
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 cup white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup navy beans
2 tomatoes, cored and cubed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Slice the baguette on the diagonal into thin slices (about 12 slices). In a large sauté pan; heat 2 T of the olive oil over medium heat.
Place the bread slices in the pan and cook on medium high heat until sizzling and golden. Before flipping the bread, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the second side until golden.
For the topping, cook the onions and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until the onions are soft, about seven minutes. Add the garlic, basil and oregano and cook another minute or two, until fragrant.
Add beans and continue cooking for another five minutes on low heat. Add the tomatoes and turn off the heat, allowing tomatoes to warm without cooking.
Drizzle the balsamic vinegar into the pan and gently stir.
Scoop heaping spoonfuls of the tomato-bean mixture onto the grilled bread and enjoy!
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford Counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at firstname.lastname@example.org