Cooking Legumes

Because dried beans, peas, and lentils are dry and hard, they must be rehydrated—that is, they must absorb water—in order to be made edible.Thus, the primary cooking method used to prepare dried legumes is simmering. Once the beans are cooked and tender, they can be finished in a variety of ways.The recipes in this section give a sample of ways to prepare legumes. Additional recipes are included in Chapter 9 ("Soups") and Chapter 21 ("Salads and Salad Dressings").

Procedure for Preparing Dried Legumes

1.

Pick over to remove any foreign particles and rinse well.

2.

Soak overnight in 3 times their volume of water. (Split peas and some lentils do not require soaking. Check package directions.)

3.

Drain the beans. Place them in a pot and add fresh cold water to cover by 1-2 inches (272-5 cm).

4.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender. Do not boil, or the vegetables may toughen. Some beans require up to 3 hours of sim-

mering.

5.

Check texture for doneness. A properly cooked bean is soft and creamy in texture, not hard or grainy. Unless a purée or soup is desired, kidney

beans should remain intact, not cooked so long that they are falling apart. Other peas and beans will form a purée or remain whole, depending on

the type.

6.

If you forget to soak beans overnight, an alternative method can be used. Put the beans in a cooking pot with 3 times their volume of cold water.

Bring to a boil. When water just starts to boil, cover tightly and remove from the heat. Let stand 1 hour. Then proceed with step 3 above.

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