This is the time of year when I get a hankering for beans; black turtle beans, white, oval-shaped cannellini beans, deep red kidney beans, brown Swedish beans, ivory white Great Northern Beans, any bean will do!
A nearly perfect food, beans are packed with complex carbohydrates that help sustain the body’s energy; fiber, which helps promote fullness and increases regularity, and protein; an important component to building muscles and tissues.
Beans also are good sources of iron, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.
After grains, beans are the second most important food that fuels the human body. Best of all, when pinched for time, a stash of them in the pantry is extremely comes in handy in the kitchen.
Black turtle beans are one of my favorites. Grown locally at Horsepower Farm in Penobscot, the black bean is a native of South America and a staple in many cuisines, including Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican and Caribbean.
If you’re feeling frugal, I encourage you to try cooking up a batch of dried black beans. Readily available in food co-ops and health food stores, dried black beans cost less than 25 cents a serving, and contain minimal sodium. The whole process, from start to finish, takes six hours, but the actual time spent actively cooking is less than ½ hour.
Soak two cups of beans in eight cups of water for three to four hours. Drain and cover the beans with eight cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer on low until the beans are tender and just starting to split, about two hours.
Drain the beans and spread in a shallow pan to cool quickly. Pack into jars or plastic bags and refrigerate or freeze. Two cups of dried black turtle beans yields about 5 cups of cooked beans.
The recipe for Black Bean Burgers is a quick and easy pantry-dish special. Serving the burgers on a bun garnished with guacamole and veggies provides a substantial repast. A black bean burger on shredded cabbage with chopped onion, avocado and salsa is a tasty and satisfying salad. The recipe makes eight burgers, which freeze extremely well for another meal.