Exreme Cuisine – Beans

By / Food / July 19th, 2011 / 1

Why would beans be the subject of an Extreme Cuisine article? They’re fairly common. Everyone has a can or two shoved to the back of their pantry. And, therein lies the issue. Even though beans seem so common, most people hardly ever eat them. Taste or texture might be a turn-off for some people, but I’m willing to bet that what keeps most people away is their … um … musical side effects, shall we say? It that’s what has kept you away, don’t worry. There are lots of ways to enjoy healthful beans without the problems.

Just to be clear, I’m talking about legumes, not green or wax beans (which are equally delicious, but not nearly as problematic). There are all sorts of beans to try — kidney, black, pinto, navy, chickpea, fava, and the list goes on. Each one has its own particular flavour, but they can be easily switched up for a change. Instead of hummus made from chickpeas, try it with fava or kidney beans. Beans are a staple of vegetarian cuisine because they provide a significant source of protein. But, even if you’re a wholehearted carnivore, you should give beans a try. They make an awesome accompaniment to meat whether they’re baked, boiled or sautéed.

Pretty much every kind of bean out there is available canned. That makes preparation a lot easier. Add the beans at the end of the cooking process to ensure that they don’t get mushy. If you have some time, buy the dried version. They do taste better in the end, and you can control the sodium level, too. Most beans have a toxic element to them that needs to be boiled away. The best way to remove that toxicity and the gas-producing sugars is to follow a couple of important steps. First, soak the beans over night in enough water to cover them completely, generally about five times the amount of beans you have. The next morning, rinse them. Place them in a large pot and cover them once again with cold water. Bring to a boil, and let the beans cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat, add a bay leaf and allow the beans to simmer away for a couple of hours. When cooked the beans should still have a slight firmness to them. Sometimes, I’ll cook them again after that initial two hours in a more flavourful sauce. Even after a third hour of cooking, I find the beans are still perfectly al dente.

Try this.

Three Layer Kidney Bean Dip

Serves 6

2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz prosciutto, chopped
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 can (15-1/2 oz) kidney beans, drained (reserve 1/4 cup liquid)
1 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
1/8 tsp pepper
1 jar (7 oz) prepared antipasto (choose your favourite)
1 cup (4 oz) provolone cheese, shredded
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced for garnish
1 baguette, thinly sliced

1. In a large frying pan set over medium heat, combine oil, garlic and prosciutto. Cook, stirring often, until prosciuto is crisp, about 4 minutes; stir in vinegar. Let cool.

2. In a large boil, mash beans to desired consistency. Stir in reserved bean liquid, prosciutto, minced basil and pepper. Spread mixture into an 8-inch diameter platter. Distribute antipasto overtop the beans, then scatter with cheese, onions and sliced basil.

Serve with baguette slices and a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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