Did you see how I did that? Heated? Get it? OK, sorry. So, I wanted to chat a little bit about this very hot topic. If you’re like me, you think you’ve heard something about how easy it is to use dried beans, how much cheaper it is, how much better they are, yadda yadda yadda, but you’re kind of lazy and there are the chickpeas (or some other bean) just sitting in their nice little cans all ready to go on the supermarket shelf…and you know where this is leading. Canned are just easier.
But! My friend, Dan, who is not only an amazing photographer, but also a fantastic and adventurous cook, told me about a little cannellini bean recipe he discovered when he was in Italy at one of his annual photography seminars in Tuscany (yeah, I want to hate him a little bit too right now). And he swears that it’s simply not worth making unless you use dried beans. So, I said, what the hell. I’ll give it a shot. (FYI, this is NOT a vegetarian dish [pancetta is involved, friends], so I’m holding off on posting for now. If you’re interested in the recipe, drop me a line). And it’s really not that big a deal. It just requires forethought (something I don’t always have handy…).
So here are the three methods:
1. Overnight soak
2. Quick soak
3. Quick cook
The first way is probably the easiest, but most time consuming. And not for those bad planners out there (like me — and, by the way, we prefer the term spontaneous). You rinse the beans several times, dump them in a bowl or pan, add water to cover beans plus 2″, and let them sit overnight (on the counter, not in the fridge; you can put them in the fridge, but then they need more like 24 hours as the cooler temperature slows the rehydration process). The next day, drain, rinse well, add fresh cold water and cook at a simmer until tender (it will vary depending on the kind of beans, so keep an eye on them). You can add a tablespoon of baking soda to the pot if you like (it helps to soften the beans). Don’t forget to skim off any of the foam that appears. That’s gassy stuff.
The second one takes less time, but requires a bit more effort. Cover your picked-over and rinsed dried beans with triple the amount of cold water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the beans, uncovered, over medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cover and let beans soak for 1-2 hours. Drain, cook as above, and off you go.
The last one method consists of basically chucking the beans into a saucepan, adding water and cooking away until they’re done. Generally not the best way to go for the heartier beans (like chickpeas), as it doesn’t break down the complex bean sugars very well, and those sugars are what give you gas, so you know, um, yeah. Not recommended.
So there you have it. Three ways or the canned way. Good luck, Grasshopper.