One of my main cheap eating strategies is to always keep the freezer full. If I can quickly heat up a bowl of soup or grab a loaf of seitan to make a meal, I’m much less likely to go for more expensive foods at the supermarket. That’s why I decided to start this month by cooking up a few pots of the staple of budget cuisine: beans!
Cooking dried beans requires a little planning, but it’s not a lot of work. I always soak them overnight, rinse them, then boil them for 1-2 hours in fresh salted water the next day. I do sometimes get a little impatient while waiting for the beans to soften, so this time I decided to try out a new chickpea cooking method from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Between the soaking and boiling steps, they coat the chickpeas in baking soda and sauté them in a saucepan to break down the skins and to increase the alkalinity of the cooking water. This extra step definitely sped up the cooking process: when I checked on the chickpeas after 20 minutes of simmering, they had already gone completely soft.
I wanted to see whether these tender chickpeas would yield a super smooth hummus, but I only had dark roasted tahini and no food processor so I had to adjust the recipe on Food 52 a bit. Still, the chickpeas were so soft that my immersion blender pulverised them within seconds, and the resulting hummus was one of the silkiest I’ve had.

I also boiled pots of white beans, pinto beans, and black-eyed peas, and they filled almost an entire drawer of my freezer! I think I’m all set for the rest of the month. :)


9 thoughts on “Beans

  1. Gotta try that baking soda tip! By the way, I may be misinformed but I always thought you shouldn’t add salt to the beans while cooking until the last few minutes: salt prevents the skins from breaking down!

    Anyway, I want to cook up some beans but my freezer is full :\

  2. Thanks for commenting! :) I really like this baking soda method – now I’d like to try it with other beans too.

    Gnoe, I’m honestly not sure about the salt thing! I used to think salt made the beans skins tough, but then lately I’ve been reading recipes that say it doesn’t really matter and the salt just adds flavour. In any case, I did lightly salt the water for this batch of chickpeas and softened very well!
    And ha, I kind of have the same problem right now. I’d sort of planned to spend the first week of MoFo cooking basics to stock my freezer, but it’s already almost full!

  3. At least one or two Sundays a month I make a big batch of chickpeas (and some other beans). Anything to speed up the process would be so helpful — I’ll have to remember this trick for the next batch. Thanks for sharing!

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