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Bean Cooking Archives | Elizabeth Borelli

Archive for the ‘Bean Cooking’ Category

10 Minute Farmer’s Market Chick Pea Salad


This mouthwatering salad assembles harmoniously with the seasonal produce so abundant at the height of summer. Just a quick trip to the market turned my plain garbanzo beans into a flavor extravaganza for under $5. It’s no accident that Mother Nature provides the best ingredients for the job just when we need them, a cooking lesson we too often forget. As good fortune would have it, fresher means more nutritious too.

But what about all the hard work it takes to make food from scratch when it’s so easy just to pick up a package? The fact is, the only way to really know what you’re eating is to make it yourself. Packaged food, even the “healthy” kind, usually contains preservatives, colorants and other additives used to keep it looking and tasting fresh.

The quality of your diet directly correlates to your health, so it’s time to rethink the convenience factor, especially when home cooking doesn’t have to be difficult and time consuming! My delicious Farmer’s Market Chick Pea Salad came together in less than ten minutes, including cleanup. I had the beans already prepared, another easy DIY method that takes little hands on time for the most delicious results.

Here are the ingredients I used:

  • 3 cups pre-cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1 large handful or 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shelled walnuts
  • 3-4 small tomatoes, diced (dry farmed are especially good here)
  • 3 small zucchinis, diced

Check out the process below:

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First, I washed, then diced my zucchini and put it right into a large saucepan with ¼ cup water.Then I covered it, put it on the stove and turned the stove to medium high.While steaming the zucchini for 2-3 minutes, I washed and chopped the tomatoes. 

I turned off the zucchini then, and left the pan covered on the stove.


Next I rinsed the basil and added that and the olive oil, walnuts and salt to a mini food processor I love to use, but you can use a blender or Vitamix too. I let it blend everything but didn’t pulverise it like I usually would a pesto.


I opted for a chunkier texture since I knew the final result would be lovelier color-wise, but you could even use pre-made pesto here to save a step.


I added the basil blend to the steamed zucchini. If there is water left in the pan, you can stir that in too.


Finally I added the garbanzo beans and tomatoes and gently stirred them in.


This is what the final salad looks like. It tastes amazing too! Serve room temperature or chilled. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Bittman, Beans and 7 Simple Tips for Expanding Your Culinary Horizons


Suppose you were planning a trip alone (with your family) in a remote Wi-Fi free yurt and you could only bring with you one lifeline to sanity, what would you choose?  This time I chose NY Times food writer Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”.  Already smitten, this book swept me into a whole new level of appreciation for Bittman’s understated culinary genius.

I recall once watching Cybill Shephard’s stern TV reenactment of Martha Stewart cooking her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, which at the time struck me as extreme, if not borderline insane.  Now years later, wading through Bittman’s 997 pages of hardbound goodness gave me a new perspective.

Of course the opening line in the chapter on beans almost made me cry; “I adore beans and have cooked with them regularly for my entire adult life” confesses Bittman.  “As I’ve traveled, as I’ve experimented, as I’ve discovered new varieties and the joys of fresh beans, I’ve grown to love them more and more”.  For me those words and the many that followed offered a fresh surge of inspiration to get back into the kitchen with renewed vigor.  I left that yurt with a plan in mind and a shopping list in hand, recharged and super excited to try on some interesting new dishes made with beans and grains I don’t typically use.

It’s rare to find a man who loves beans as much as I do.  And Bittman’s casual, use-what-you-have-on-hand cooking style is a perfect fit for busy people who enjoy healthy eating as much as he does.  If you can get past the looming structure of it, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian takes the mystery out of many foods mistakenly assumed complicated.  And in case you’re worried about how to adapt to all this new fiber, Bittman tackles that topic as well- beans don’t have to be associated with gas!

In typical plain-talk style he suggests maintaining a healthy level of fiber in your diet to promote digestive efficiency and free you from issues of gastric distress.  He bluntly concludes; “If you’re uncomfortable after eating legumes, see your doctor”.  While the extremity of this advice did make me chuckle, it’s out of context here and perhaps even in the original text.  Most Americans are so fiber-deficit that people do associate beans with gas, often as a point of concern.

So how does one build a healthy fiber intake without the, um, gastrointestinal issues?  The key is a slow transition; this will minimize any digestive issues as your body relearns how to process real food. Work your way up to a healthy fiber intake by making the switch from refined grains to whole ones and incorporating the recommended intake of at least four servings per week of beans into your diet.

This is a relatively quick process, a matter of weeks should suffice.  Embrace this opportunity to discover a whole new world of under-appreciated yet thoroughly delicious healthy, whole foods.

Here are 7 simple suggestions to help you expand your culinary horizons:

  1. Select one new whole grain you’d like to try:  faro, wheat berries, hulled barley and quinoa are all good choices for flavor and versatility.
  2. Choose one bean variety you’d like to try: cooking from scratch.  Garbanzo or cannellini beans are a great place to start since they’re readily available, much more delicious fresh than canned and very versatile.
  3. Schedule a time when you know you’ll be home for a couple of hours to do your cooking.
  4. The day prior, soak your beans in enough water to cover them by at least 4”
  5. Cook your beans and grains according to instructions
  6. Drain grains after cooking to store covered for up to 5 days in the fridge, or 2-3 months frozen.
  7. Store beans in their cooking water in the fridge for up to 5 days or 2-3 months frozen.

For perfectly cooked beans:  add 1 tsp. salt and 2 tbsps. lemon juice to beans after they begin to tenderize during cooking, about 45 minutes.

For easy weekly menu planning:    Cook enough beans and grains to serve for several meals during the week, then freeze the rest in family serving-sized containers.  I love glass jars for this, but be sure to leave the lid slightly askew during freezing to allow for expansion.

Whole foods are the gateway to good health so getting to know them better holds no shortage of reward.   And reading through a master work like Bittman’s HTCEV (or similar) can get even the most competent cook inspired.  So take a moment to pick up a great cookbook and really give it your attention.  Read the recipes, envision the process and embark on a brand new culinary adventure today!

Amazing Lentil Benefits, Simple Cooking Methods and Yummy Recipes


Lentils, the Mega-Nutrient, Down Home Superfood

When it comes to nutrients per calorie, lentils top the list.  A rich, nutty legume with roots in the Middle East, lentils pack a serious health punch.  In fact, Health magazine calls them one of the five healthiest foods, a sentiment which is shared worldwide. To be sure, 1 cup of cooked lentils contains more than 18 grams of protein (about the same amount as a 3 oz. portion of steak, minus the saturated fat), and that’s just for starters.   Lentils also deliver plenty of dietary fiberfolateB vitamins, and minerals, making them a perfect choice for those interested in keeping blood sugar and cholesterol in check.

In case you need more convincing, most Americans come up short on meeting their dietary fiber daily intake requirements by about 50%. This key nutrient associated with weight loss and low blood cholesterol leads to sustained energy while it keeps you feeling fuller longer.  In fact, legumes such as lentils have been used to lower blood sugar levels and even reduce or eliminate prescription meds in people with Type 2 diabetes.  And for anyone concerned about too much music, lentils are also the easiest legumes to digest.

If all of these health benefits aren’t enough, try lentils for the amazing array of delicious dishes that feature this fabulous food.  A mere bite of Agape Salad had been known to soften even the most consummate carnivores it’s so savory and satisfying.   There so many lentil benefits, cooking methods and recipes, I invite you to find your own favorites.

Basic Cooking Method

Lentils are a cinch to prepare, since they don’t require soaking and cook faster than most grains and legumes.  They work wonderfully in Misc 009soups and stews, or combine deliciously into a hearty salad or side dish as well.

Storage Tip:  Store lentils in jars in your pantry, labeled with variety, date and cooking information so you don’t have to look it up next time you’re ready to prepare them.

Click here for a downloadable bulk food label template.

Lentils can be simmered in water on the stove top or cooked in consommé, bouillon or broth with equal ease.   Brown, Green and Black and Red lentils all cook similarly, however cooking times vary, see individual varieties below for details.

  1.  Place lentils in a colander and sift through them before cooking.  Remove anything not a lentil (they sometimes pick up bits of stone during harvesting), then give them in quick rinse in cold water.
  2. Pour into a large saucepan.  Add about 1 ½ cups water per cup of lentils
  3. Heat the lentils and water on the stove until they come to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered to prevent over-boiling.  (See cooking times under individual varieties below)
  5. Serve and enjoy

Optional Cooking Tip:  Remove from heat and cover tightly with the lid. Let sit for 5-10 minutes longer before serving.

Common Lentil Varieties

The large, khaki-colored lentils most commonly used in cooking are called Green or Brown lentils depending on where you shop, but suffice it to say these classic lentils are greenish-brown in color and work in any lentil recipe, although they’re on the softer side once cooked and more mild-flavored than other varieties. Cook for 25-40 minutes.

French green lentils (lentilles du Puy)  are slighly smaller than the brown variety.  This dark green legume is often considered the tastiest, with a slight peppery flavor to round it out.  Slightly firmer than Brown lentils, but may be substituted in most recipes.  Cook for 35-45 minutes.

Black or Beluga Lentils are a smallest variety with a delicious, nutty flavor that lends itself well to whole grain or arugula salads.  Also lovely combined with French lentils to vary the texture.  Cook 20-30 minutes.

Red lentils are sweetest of the bunch, these salmon colored legumes transform into a golden puree when cooked.  A perfect addition to soups or stews, they’re often used in curry dishes.   Cook for 25 minutes, into a thick puree.

Basic Lentil Recipe Ideas

There are as countless ways to prepare lentils, and it’s easy to get creative and invent your own favorites!  I like to prepare mine according to the cooking instructions above, and add in some of the following items for every 3-4 cups of cooked Green, Black or French lentils:

Add during last 5 minutes of simmer time (return lentils to simmer before restarting the timer):

  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrot (skin on)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup chopped red or green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1 cup chopped fennel

Mix in with cooked lentils:

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. dried mustard
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp. natural hickory liquid smoke
  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice

Sauté for 5 – 10 minutes with slightly under-cooked lentils (in addition to any of the items listed above):

  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped parsnip
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1-2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 cup chopped spinach

Or try one of these delicious recipes:

Mediterranean Lentil Salad

Agape Salad

Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

DIY Ideas for Meaningful Holiday Giving


DIY-Gift-Images-0192It’s that time of year again, when thoughts turn to loved ones, traditions, and as a matter of course, gift giving.  And if you happen to forget that last one, simply enter any store or open your mailbox and you’re in for a hasty reminder.  Having recently moved, I’m reminded of the importance of collecting discriminately; most of us don’t need more stuff.  Yet holiday gift giving is a special practice, especially when imparted with a creative, personal touch.   So this year I’m turning to tea for a fresh DIY gift idea, combining the best of both notions into a thoughtful gift, tailored especially for the recipient.

Those of you short on time will love this one.  It’s easy to infuse with intention, healing benefits or just plain decadence if that’s your goal.  (more…)

Tools for Success, A Must-Have List of Kitchen Basics


portraits-headshots-rebecca-stark-photographer-0138When it comes to food preparation, I’m a minimalist.  As much as I enjoy discovering new ingredients and techniques,  my culinary tool collection remains pretty basic.  I don’t own a juicer or a fancy food processor, not even a crock pot.   I find that between a powerful blender, a few good chefs knives and a small array of decent quality pans will get you thorough most recipes without a hitch.   Basics aside, my kitchen tools list is relatively short, just enough to get the job done.  However, if gadgets are what it takes to get you going, by all means, acquire accordingly!

  • Hand grater, large stainless steel, free standing
  • Hand grater, small hand held stainless steel (for ginger) (more…)

Ready to lose 8 pounds without even trying?


Ready to lose 8 pounds without even trying?If you’re expecting a diet pill or calorie cutting plan, you may be disappointed.  The only investment you’ll need to make for this weight loss regimen is maybe a good pair of reading glasses.

A full 70% of food we eat is processed.  True that’s a high number, but since my favorite whole grain bread ranks on that list, I’m not throwing in the towel and neither should you.  The trick is to being to make more informed choices.  Luckily no special skills are required to recognize the good from the garbage.  I’m not suggesting you no longer enjoy your treats if you can’t live without them, just know that some treats are trickier than others.  The secret to which is which lies in the small print on the side of the package.

Women who regularly read ingredients labels weigh an average of eight pounds less than the rest of us.  I know those tiny numbers are confusing, but even when you don’t know what all of them mean, you know enough to weed out (more…)

Favorite Tips to Spice Up Your Beans


2013-10-21 13.49.12Certain seasonings will make your beans sing, rely on them and you’ll rarely be disappointed.  Some of favorite spices for beans include:  garlic, parsley, cumin, thyme, basil, oregano, fennel, and pepper of any kind, but truth be told, it’s hard to go wrong no matter how you spice it.

  • A good measure for dried spices is 1 teaspoon of seasoning per 4 cups of cooked beans.

A favorite cold-weather seasoning suggestion is to add a touch of smoky flavoring to your soup, chili or veggie bake.  I’ve recently discovered this amazing coconut bacon made of real ingredients and no artificial additives.  (more…)

Time Saving Cooking Tips for Easy Meal Preparation, from Scratch



Ask any busy mom why she doesn’t cook at home, and you’ll get some version of the same answer. But take a moment to reflect on what “I don’t have time” really means, and you’ll notice some loopholes in that argument. Meaning that it’s hard to really know whether you have enough time to cook unless you’ve tried these time saving cooking tips before, since as of now you don’t know actually know how much time they take.

And it’s a valid concern. Why invest valuable time to learn something you’re not going to use?


Top Ten Reasons to Eat Your Beans


Did you know, thousands of new processed food products are introduced each year, with billions of industry dollars spent encouraging us to eat them?  The US is now the most overweight industrial nation in history.  Do they really think we need more food?

Newsflash industrial ag!  You’re heading in the wrong direction.  We don’t need more additives, chemicals or GMOs, it’s time we turned back to the basics, where natural nutrition and good taste meet.  In other words, back to the beans.

Beans are so nutritious that the latest dietary guidelines recommend we triple our current intake from 1 to 3 cups per week  If nutritional punch and sheer deliciousness don’t grab you, how about the biggest bang for your buck as another great reason to get those beans boiling?