You may know that I have a slight obsession with beans. Beans are a wonderfully frugal whole food, they have an excellent nutritional profile, and are extremely versatile. There are hundreds of varieties of beans/legumes available which really helps keep things interesting. Beans also make an excellent addition to your food storage.
For ease of cooking and digestion ‘assistance’ we soak and/or sprout our beans. I haven’t actually sprouted black beans but my friend KerryAnn at Cooking Traditional Foods sprouts all of her beans. She shares why in this post. I think she is onto something and at some point I hope to be organized enough to copy her. For this post, I’ll share how I currently prepare black beans for our Stretchy Bean meals.
My goal is to make one pot of black beans and then re-invent that pot into three or four meals to enjoy during the week.
Start with 5 cups of picked over (to remove any stones or debris) and rinsed black beans. 5 cups is approximately 2 pounds and seems to be a good amount for my family of five providing the three meals plus leftovers for lunch.
I start the beans to soak in plain water the night before I want to cook them. I usually soak them in the (large) crock pot that I plan to cook the beans in making sure I have added plenty of water. The beans need plenty of water since they will absorb it and nearly triple in volume. You might choose to add an acidic liquid to your beans during the soaking time. I’ve tried that many times and I didn’t notice a difference in the digestibility compared with a plain water soak. Your results may be different. Here is an excellent article from Shannon at Nourishing Days on why beans are hard to digest and how to help with that.
After my beans have soaked, I drain the soaking water off and put them back in the crock pot. I like to cook my beans in homemade broth. If I don’t have any broth made I will often add a package of my freezer stash of bones to the pot and then fill with water. When we make roast chicken or duck we keep the cooked bones in the freezer to use for broth. You can see in the photo that I had a few duck hindquarter bones which worked out perfect for this pot of black beans (note: I personally don’t add raw bones to my beans, only previously cooked). Sometimes I will cook the beans in plain water– especially if I intend to turn the black beans into a dessert such as Black Bean Brownies. Don’t tell anyone but I have made brownies out of beans cooked in broth. Tasted great! I cover the beans with the liquid, put the lid on, and let them cook. They usually take 5 or 6 hours and then are ready to be turned into meals.
I haven’t added any seasoning at this point. When the black beans are thoroughly cooked I’ll lightly season the entire pot with salt, pepper and garlic (if making a dessert, I’ll pull those beans out first before seasoning).
The cooked and seasoned beans are now ready to be divided up. I pull out enough beans for our supper that first night, the remaining beans are divided into two or three other portions depending on my menu plan for the week. I also reserve the bean broth, often in a separate container but sometimes not.
While I am sharing links to recipes here, I should tell you that many times I don’t use a recipe when putting our meals together. I create the dishes while standing at the stove. I do have several Basic Formulas that I use for common dishes which I share in my eBook Design a Dish. I find that formula cooking in one of the best ways to make the most of our food budget.
Usually on night one of black beans, I’ll make an easy black beans and rice dish. I most always make a double batch of rice so we can turn that into Stretchy Rice to either use for supper or for breakfast (we love Butterscotch Rice and also Rice Pancakes)
Black Beans and Rice (simply seasoned black beans served over rice) with sauteed greens or fresh salad.
Easy Black Beans and Yellow Rice (based on this recipe— I do modify it quite a bit to fit our choice of ingredients, and I portion out the rice after it is cooked and add the turmeric then).
Night two is we’ll have have a burrito or tostado style meal.
These Stuffed Burritos are super easy and super versatile.
Using the same idea as the stuffed burritos, I’ll make tostados. I like to cook our sourdough flour tortillas in butter to allow them to ‘crisp’ up a bit as a base. Use any of the suggestions in stuffed burritos for toppings but leave it open faced.
We’ll sometimes have a Breakfast Tostado. I’ll crisp the tortilla and then top with black beans, scrambled eggs, salsa (lacto-fermented is our favorite), cilantro, veggies and shredded cheese. We really like the combination of eggs and black beans.
Night three is often a soup, chili or skillet dish. I find these type of meals work great for using up the remaining beans.
Taco Soup is a tasty and easy soup. I like to fry a few strips of tortillas (in coconut oil or animal fat) to top it with along with sour cream and shredded cheese.
We love this Creamy Black Bean Chili ( I only use about 1/2 pound of ground beef or game when I make it) served with corn bread.
Pureed Black Bean Soup based on a recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon is another favorite. I’ll share this recipe in a future post.
Another great way to finish off a pot of black beans is with a Skillet Dish.
Black Bean Brownies are spectacular!
None of these nights are not written in stone. We might chose to have a chili on night one, tostados on night two and a skillet dish on night three. Sometimes I’ll start with extra beans so I have some to stash in the freezer or to dehydrate. Both are excellent to keep on hand for the base of a quick meal. I usually save the dehydrated beans for chili or taco soup and allow it to simmer long enough to rehydrate the beans. Delicious!
What are your favorite recipes for black beans?
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