Believe it or not, today is National Bean Day! If you’re shrugging your shoulders, read on. One of our illustrious writers, Bee Smith, enlightened me as to how this little-known holiday came to be. According to her, in Europe, especially Germany, people traditionally make a special cake on Epiphany (today, Jan. 6). A bean is put in it – just like a sixpence is put into the English Christmas Pudding. Whoever gets the bean in their piece of cake is the Bean King or Bean Queen of the Day.
So there you have it. Apart from being a fun surprise in cake, beans are low in fat and loaded with protein and fiber, making them one of the most versatile ingredients you can cook with! In honor of Bean Day, here is a “whole mess” of not beans, but mouth-watering, stove-rockin’ recipes featuring everyone’s favorite legume.
From Bee Smith, Ireland:
Bee’s Pinto Bean Hotpot
The morning before pre-soak 250g of pinto beans. In the evening boil the beans for approximately 40 minutes until tender. Retain the beans’ cooking water.
Either in the evening or next morning (depending on which works with your lifestyle and body clock) put the cooked beans in your pot with 2 chopped onions, 2 minced garlic cloves, about 150 g of chopped sun dried tomatoes, 2 generous tablespoons of capers.
Put about 4 TBSP of flour seasoned with salt and pepper on a plate. Toss the 1 lb of stewing beef that has been cubed into nice bite size pieces in the flour mixture. Now take a skillet and heat up some olive oil, about 2 TBSP but you may need to add a little later as the oil absorbs the flour. Gently fry the meat cubes so that they outer part is just browned.
Add the meat to the bean pot. Add enough of the retained bean cooking liquid so that the pot is within a quarter inch of being covered. Add a TBSP of balsamic vinegar and add a few twists of salt and pepper from the grinder to season.
Last thing you do before leaving in the morning put the lid on and place in a low, slow oven for at least two hours. At four hours the meat will be so tender that even the cheapest cuts of meat will taste a treat. If you will be leaving it for longer than that add more water to the pot so the stew doesn’t dry out.
Note: If you are short on time I’ve been known to substitute black-eyed peas (which don’t need pre-soaking) in this dish. They work beautifully.
Sweet and Sour Aduki Beans (Vegetarian)
Aduki beans really don’t need pre-soaking, but like kidney beans they do need to be hard boiled for 20 minutes. Pre-soak 125grams of aduki beans overnight. Boil them for at least 20 minutes on a hard, rolling boil and drain.
Chop and add:
1 large onion
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 x 420 gram tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x small tin crushed, unsweetened pineapple, including the juice
Add to taste:
Soy sauce or tamari
Optional: If you want a slightly thicker sauce add some tomato puree.
Slow cook this for an hour in a very low, slow oven. Serve with boiled rice. Serves 4-6 people.
NB: The pineapple is sweet enough that you don’t need to add any sugar.
From Connie Peterson, Minnesota, USA:
Auntie Pete and Her Beans
My grandmother, Caroline, was born in Norway and came over when she was about 10 years old. Even though she was Norwegian, she married a German so she did a lot of German cooking in her lifetime. She taught her daughters (all 7 of them) how to cook and many of them kept her recipes in their recipe box for reference when they cooked.
Auntie Pete’s name came from my German grandfather. He was a great one for nicknames. From what I understand, he’d ask her (when she was very young), “Whose sweetie are you?” and she would answer “Your Petie.” So my aunt Mildred became Petie or Pete to everyone who knew and loved her.
Auntie Pete was my closest aunt on my mother’s side as she lived in my grandmother’s hometown. We usually stayed with her when we visited because Nana’s home was just a bedsitter room with a small kitchen and smaller bathroom.
This bean recipe is a combination of Nana’s, Auntie Pete’s, my cousin Kathy’s (her daughter) and my sister Candy’s recipes.
I have struggled for all of my married life (all 43 ½ years of it) trying to get a good baked bean. My problem has always been getting the beans soft. The taste was good, the beans were crunchy! This year is the FIRST time I’ve gotten soft beans and it’s all due to Candy’s encouragement to try “Just one more time!” And these beans are not only tasty, they are soft! SOFT, I tell you, SOFT!
So here is the recipe …. try it yourself and see if you don’t agree with me that they are about the best beans you have ever tasted! A baked bean sandwich on a fresh bun was my Uncle Hooky’s favorite. (Uncle Hooky was my mother’s oldest brother – Hugo, nicknamed “Hooky” by my grandfather!)
Good, Soft Baked Beans
Soak 1 pound of beans (approx. 1 ½ cups – 2 cups) overnight. Change water and bring them to a boil and simmer for a half hour or more until tender. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Drain the beans and reserve the cooking water, adding to it the following:
½ (or more) cup of chopped onions
4-5 TB molasses
4-5 TB brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3 TB ketchup or tomato sauce
1 tsp prepared mustard or ½ tsp dry mustard
1 TB of Worcestershire sauce, if desired.
Put the beans into a greased roaster (or cast iron kettle) and tuck in chunks of sliced salt pork, bacon, smoked ham hocks or a small picnic ham. Pour the seasoned bean water (6 – 8 cups) over them and bake, covered, in a slow oven for 6 – 9 hours. Uncover for the last hour of cooking to permit browning.
The best bean varieties are Great Northern, Jacob’s Cattle and other similar large dry bean varieties. Pintos are OK; they tend to get a bit mushy but require less cooking. Cooking time will vary, depending upon the age and dryness of the bean. The beans are done when you can blow on them and see the skin split. Whatever you do, DON’T soak the beans in soda! It removes most of the enzyme nutrients and doesn’t appreciably reduce the “gas.”
From Dori Fritzinger, North Carolina, USA:
For most recipes, you may use canned or start-from-scratch beans. To me the advantages of cook from scratch beans are, first the expense, particularly if you use a lot of beans. Most types of dry beans cost less than a dollar a pound and remember, you will get nearly double their volume in product once they are cooked. Also, there is just so much sodium in canned beans that I try to stay away from them. I also prefer the texture of from scratch beans better than canned. Also, using canned or from scratch beans will greatly depend on what you are using them for. If for example, you simply want to put a few beans in a salad or a burrito, and then perhaps opening a can is more efficient and convenient. However, if you are planning a meal based around beans or a bean dish, it is probably a good idea to cook your beans from scratch. Just remember the ratio of dry to cooked beans: they double in volume, ½-cup dry becomes 1-cup cooked. Now, do not put any salt in the pot with the beans because it tends to make them tough. Salt them after the fact. You can however add garlic, onion, bay and other herbs and seasonings to the pot.
½ cup vegetable oil
2 cups cooked Pinto Beans (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Heat lard in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until hot. Add Pinto Beans; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Mash beans; stir in chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add more oil to skillet if necessary; cook and stir until a smooth paste forms, about 5 minutes. Garnish with shredded cheese if desired. Yield: 4 servings.
This recipe can be used for all varieties of dry beans.
4 cups water
1 pound dried beans (about 2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
1 slice bacon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin seed
Mix water, beans and onion in heavy sauce pan. Cover and heat to boiling; boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 1 hour. Add just enough water to beans to cover. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until beans is very tender, about 2 hours. (Add water during cooking if necessary.) Drain; reserve broth for recipes calling for bean broth. Cover and refrigerate beans and broth separately; use within 10 days.
Crock Pot Lentil Soup
1 pound lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped, with liquid
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 large carrots, sliced
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground marjoram
1/8 teaspoon leaf sage, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
Place all ingredients, except the cheese, in the slow cooker and cook on the HIGH setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the cheese until it is melted. Serve hot, topped with more cheese, if desired. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Inside Out Chili (Slow Cooker)
Vary the heat by adding or subtracting the amount and/or variety of hot peppers.
1 to 2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 to 1 cup chopped onions, optional
2 cans white beans chili hot beans
2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained
2 cans pinto beans, drained
2 cans kidney beans, drained
2 cans Rotel© tomatoes (approx. 10 1/2 ounces each)
1 package chili seasoning
2 jalapeno chili peppers*, seeded and chopped
*When working with hot peppers wear rubber gloves to keep your hands from burning from handling the peppers.
Brown ground beef with chopped onion; drain well. Put all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours. Makes 12 to 16 servings.
Easy Black Bean Soup with Lobster
1 can black bean soup
1 can tomato soup
1 can milk
1 can water
1 pkg. frozen lobster
Sherry and lemon juice to taste
Cook lobster and cut into bite size pieces. Then combine with other ingredients.
Tuscan Style Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped red bell pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup kidney beans
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1 cup seashell pasta
ground black pepper to taste
In a large pot over medium high heat, combine the oil, onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the red bell pepper and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the thyme, spinach and pasta. Simmer for 5 more minutes and pepper to taste.
Marinated Balsamic Bean Salad
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
1 cup frozen cut green beans
1 (16-oz) can kidney beans
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 (15-oz) can black beans
1 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves minced garlic
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a colander; rinse and drain. Combine onion and remaining ingredients in a bowl; add corn and beans, tossing gently to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with a slotted spoon.
Makes 6 servings
Baked Lima Beans
6 cups frozen lima beans, thawed
6 pears, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 onion chopped
Place all ingredients in a heavy casserole dish, cover and bake for 12 hours at 200 degrees or a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours. Makes 10 servings.
Quick and Easy Red Beans and Rice
2 cans red kidney beans, (15 ounces each)
3 slices bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 small bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onions, with tops
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 jar (2 oz) chopped pimiento
1 can (8 oz) tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pound Polish sausage, sliced, if desired
In a Dutch oven, fry bacon and crumble into kidney beans. Sauté vegetables in bacon drippings, cook until vegetables are wilted. Add beans and remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve over rice.
Makes 4 Servings
Don’t be afraid of cooking with beans. They are inexpensive and healthily for your heart. National Bean Day may become one of your favorite culinary celebrations!