This is a recipe and guide for how to make beans that are really delicious!
One of the most beautiful things about beans is they’re easy. They’re also flexible, absorb great flavor, and don’t really require a strict recipe.
This post focuses on dried beans that come in a bag or box, making this a great place to get a sturdy foundation on your bean game. Take this recipe and make it your own by adding/omitting the spices and/or types of soffritto to your preference!
How To Make Beans Soft
One thing people always ask us is how to make beans soft. We always soak our beans regardless of the type. Why? Soaking beans gives them the time to absorb water and soften which later speeds up the cooking process. It also saves you money on gas and/or electricity.
In addition, soaking beans saves time and effort. We run a small, family-owned olive oil business and manage several olive groves. To say we often run short on time is generous. Going back and forth to a stove for 4 hours doesn't work for our family. Soaking beans overnight often means it only takes one hour for them to cook which is perfect.
How To Soak Different Types Of Beans
Black beans, cannellini, black eyed peas, garbanzo beans, no two batches of beans are the same! The longer beans have been on the shelf the more dehydrated they become and the longer they need to soak. There is no one size fits all rule for soaking beans and you'll have to adjust based on the toughness during the soaking process.
We soak black beans and cannellini for about 8 hours. Black-eyed peas and garbanzo beans are soaked the longest, with black-eyed peas being soaked for at least 8 hours and garbanzo for up to 14 hours. Garbanzos can be extremely hard, therefore, need a lot of extra soak time.
How To Tell If A Bean Is Ready To Be Cooked
Reach into the bowl and grab a bean. Squeeze it between your thumb and forefinger. If it’s soft enough to break under medium pressure then they’re ready to be cooked.
When cooking beans you’re not familiar with an overnight soak is best. That way if they're still not soft after an 8 hour soak you can leave them for an additional few hours (or work day) and cook them in the evening.
A lot of people don’t soak lentils because they can cook quite quickly. But as we said we're all about speed in the kitchen. We soak lentils for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then we cook them up like any other bean and they’re ready to go! Lentils are especially delicious when blended and used as a pasta sauce.
How To Make Beans Reduce Gassiness
To degass bean we soak them for 8 hours and change the water every few hours. We always dispose of the soaking liquid, which is a hot topic in the bean world. It's our personal preference.
Italians are big on digestion, and degassing beans aids greatly in that process. We notice that it’s easier to digest beans after they’ve been soaked for at least 8 hours and rinsed well before cooking.
Again, this is a personal preference. Many people love to keep the bean water and use it to cook the beans in or even store it in the fridge to use in broth later because it has lots of flavor.
See more methods on degassing here.
How To Make Beans
This bean recipe can feed 4 to 8 people depending on the portion sizes and use. For example, if serving the beans as a sauce with pasta it will stretch a little further, especially if blended down. If you serve the it as a soup or just in a bowl it might only be enough for 4 people.
How To Make Beans That Are Rich
Really great, rich beans always start with a fantastic soffritto. recipe with bacon/guanciale/pancetta or skip the meat and go for a traditional soffritto with lots of extra virgin olive oil, onion, carrot, and celery. If you start with a fatty meat, make sure all the fat ‘melts’, see our soffritto recipe. Then take a look at the amount of fat in the pan and decide how much olive oil to add, if any. There should be a thin yet clearly visible layer of fat in the pan. However, it varies depending on the fat content of the meat. It’s usually best to add a few tbsp of olive oil to ensure there’s enough fat/olive oil in the pan to lightly fry the soffritto because this is what carries the flavors throughout the dish.
How To Make Beans That Are Brothy
Beans become brothy once they've been cooking and just begin to break down. The best brothy beans are cooked in a vegetable or meat broth (hence the name) which lends loads of depth and flavor to the bean. Note, if you use broth make sure it’s not too salty. While salted broth is great for risotto or ragus, it’s not great for beans.
How To Make Beans That Are Saucy
Just about any beans can be cooked up and served with pasta as a soup or blended into a concentrated sauce. Both work extremely well. When beans are blended they become incredibly rich and creamy, coupled with starchy pasta you have a comforting meal!
How To Make Beans That Are Perfectly Salted
When you make bean, it’s super important to only salt them at the end of the cooking process. Beans absorb everything, including liquid and salt. Therefore, if you salt beans at the beginning of the cooking process the dish can become very high in sodium or taste overly salted once the liquid has been absorbed and/or evaporated. Also, when you add cheese rinds or freshly grated cheese that adds more salt to the dish.
Wait until about 15 minutes before the beans are completely cooked to salt. This will allow the salt to move through the dish and avoid oversalting.
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If you make this soffritto, please leave a comment and give this recipe a rating! We love to hear from you and do respond to comments. And if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag us on Instagram and Facebook and use #EXAUoliveoil so we can repost!