Take a look at some of the overlooked members of the versatile bean family.
Use any type of bean in soups or stews. Or, cook beans and stir them into salads and casseroles.
To soak dried beans before cooking, rinse them well. In a large kettle combine beans and enough water to cover. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour. (Or, in a large kettle, soak dried beans in water, covered and refrigerated, overnight.) Drain and rinse.
To cook beans, in the same kettle combine beans and liquid called for in recipe or enough water to cover. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer till tender. Begin checking for doneness after 20 minutes of cooking. (Press a bean between your thumb and forefinger; if there is a hard core, cook beans a little longer and test again.)
Peanutty Beef and Bean Stew
To save about 150 mg sodium per serving, use lower-sodium broth.
1. Soak beans as directed. Drain and rinse. Add broth to beans; bring to boiling. Add meat. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, till beans are nearly tender (see cooking directions, above). Add carrots, celery, onion, basil, and coriander. Cover; simmer for 30 minutes or till vegetables and beans are tender. Skim off fat. For a thicker stew, mash beans slightly with a spoon.
2. Place peanut butter in a small bowl. Stir in about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid; stir into stew mixture. Heat through. Makes 4 main-dish servings.
Some say a bean is just a bean. Not so! The humble bean comes in a rainbow of colors and a variety of shapes, textures, and flavors. Here are just a few you can look for in your grocery store.
Cranberry: Cranberry beans are mottled like pinto beans, but the markings are pink.
Flageolet (fla-zhoh-LAY): These extraordinary French kidney beans range in color from pale green to creamy white. Try them in a bean salad with a lemon and oil dressing.
Cannellini: (not pictured) You've most likely tasted this white kidney bean in minestrone soup or other Italian dishes. Delicious in soup, cannellini beans are available canned as well as dried.
Scarlet Runner: These beans are showstoppers with their lavender and purple markings. Serve them in a bean salad or in a broth-based soup.
Appaloosa: Spotted all over with tan and brown markings, these beans have a delightful toasted flavor. Mash them for a bean dip, or use them in soups and stews.
Christmas Lima:This beautiful, kidney-shaped bean has a chestnutlike flavor when cooked. Showcase it in a salad or side dish.
-I'm Jennifer with the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen. Everyone loves hearty soups and stews, and beans are always a fantastic addition. But don't reach for a can, instead, try cooking dried beans. They have much better flavor and texture than canned beans. Yes, they can take awhile to cook, but we have a secret for par cooking dried beans that will help speed things up a bit. Now, in the Test Kitchen, before par-cooking, we always spread the beans out on a baking sheet and sort through them. Sometimes, there are small pebbles in there that should be thrown away. After sorting, rinse the beans in a colander under cold water to remove any surface sand. Transfer the beans to a Dutch oven and add enough water to cover. Then, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Off heat, let the beans stand in the hot water for an hour then drain. They won't be soft at this point, but they will be ready to add the recipes, like this French Country Soup to finish cooking until soft and tender. Cooking with dried beans isn't hard at all with secrets to success from Better Homes and Gardens. It's easy to make hearty dishes the whole family will love.