The Basics of Cooking Beans

I’m pushing beans again because I’m trying really hard to get you to eat them several times a week.  If you’ve never cooked them from dried beans, it’s definitely worth the little bit of extra effort because the texture is far superior to canned beans.  You can purchase dried beans at any supermarket but for fresher beans and an interesting variety of beans, I suggest ordering them online from Rancho Gordo.



Rinse 1 pound dried beans with water. Cover beans with water (at least 2 inches above the beans). Soak for 4-6 hours for Rancho Gordo beans (if using store bought dried beans, soak overnight)

4 large carrots, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 gloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon salt


In a large Dutch oven, saute carrots, onion, celery and garlic on olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add soaked and drained beans. Cover with water, making sure beans are covered by at least one inch of water. Bring to a hard boil for about 10 minutes. Cover and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Keep top of pot slightly a jar. When beans begin to soften, add salt. Beans will take 1-3 hours to cook depending on the type of bean (garbanzo beans take longer). Slow and low cooking is best. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Note: Do not add acids (tomatoes, vinegar, lemon juice) until the beans are fully cooked or beans will become tough.

Menu ideas for adding more beans to your plate:

Although these beans are delicious as is, you can create fast and easy meals by adding a few simple ingredients.

Lemon Shrimp and Garlic: Saute 1 pound of shrimp with 2 minced gloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil until shrimp is cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Add juice from ½ a lemon, pinch of salt and pepper, ¼ cup chopped basil or parsley.  Spoon cooked beans into a bowl and top with shrimp. Serves: 4.

Spinach, Tomato, and Basil: In a bowl, stir 4 cups of spinach, 1 pint of chopped cherry tomatoes, ¼ cup chopped basil, salt and pepper. Add ½ of the bean mixture to the spinach. Toss gently. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and shredded parmesan cheese.

Bean and Tomato Soup: Add 1 cup of beans to 1 container (20 ounces) of tomato soup (try reduced sodium Imagine or Pacific brands).


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