Monday, February 18, 2008

Legumes for Life

I love legumes, my favorites being garbanzos and black beans. Dried organic legumes are so much better than the canned varieties. They just taste cleaner. I don’t like the way canned legumes taste, they taste like they’ve been sitting in a can! (I swear my taste buds are hyper sensitive). It’s not difficult to prepare dried beans however, you need to plan ahead.
Before I go into the method, may I remind you how healthy and economical beans are. Of themselves they are low in calories but filling, have a lot of fiber and are low on the glycemic index. Combined with brown rice they make a complete protein….I believe they are a super food. I eat beans in one form or another four to five times a week and I encourage you to do so as well. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t like Hummus.

Preparing dried organic garbanzo beans:

First – the night before, prep the dried garbanzos:
Place one cup of dried beans in an 8- cup pot with lid, inspecting beans to make sure there are no foreign particles or mutants. Rinse and drain beans twice in cold water. Then add enough cold water to cover beans by two inches (about 6 cups), put lid on pot, and soak beans overnight, minimum 12 hours. (Just soak, don’t cook). You can let the beans soak for as long as 36 hours but not longer otherwise you will have sprouted beans. (Not a bad idea…they are great tossed into a salad.) After the overnight soaking, drain and rinse beans several times in fresh cold water, then return to same pot and add 5 cups water or organic vegetable or chicken broth or a combination of both. Don’t add salt, it’s just not necessary. Cover pot, put on stovetop over high heat and bring to a rapid boil (about 10 minutes). When at a boil, turn heat all the way down to the lowest setting and let beans simmer for about 1 hour until tender but not mushy. Remove from heat, drain excess water. You now have beans ready to do good things with.

Keeping It Simple – toss the beans with fresh finely chopped parsley, one tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice, two tablespoons best quality EVOO, a dash of salt. Add in one small finely chopped garlic clove as an option. Now you have a tasty bean side dish, served hot or cold, or as an addition to your daily salad. Refrigerate unused beans in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

Hummus has become a favorite of many and it’s really not that difficult to make. It’s always a welcome appetizer especially at pot-lucks and when your friends find out you made it from scratch….well….they’ll be in awe! Hummus served with whole wheat pita triangles is a wonderful crudite. (serve with oblong sliced cucumber sticks and celery and carrot sticks.)
Note: Ideally, using a food processor is the easiest way to make Hummus, but it can be made in a blender as well, especially if you like it smooth and creamy. Failing that, use a potato masher and as a very last resort smash the bean mixture with a sturdy fork or whatever heavy utentsil you’ve got.

In a food processor place:
1 small peeled garlic clove, sliced
The cooked Garbanzo beans
4 tablespoons Tahini (available in the Ethnic section at most markets)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon ground red pepper, ½ teaspoon salt. Process until desired consistency is achieved (if you like it smooth and creamy add water one tablespoon at a time and continue to blend.) Place Hummus in a small bowl, sprinkle with finely chopped fresh parsley and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil.)