How to cook Beans / Legumes
In my country we cook a lot of beans. They are a huge part of our everyday diet and through the years we have developed a lot and interesting recipes for beans and legumes. Furthermore, if you ask any Greek which is Greece’s national food they won’t tell you Mousaka or souvlaki which you might have guessed but rather “Fasolada” which is a white kidney bean soup.
That unknown recipe to the masses called “Fasolada” the Greeks have been cooking it for hundreds of years and I’m guessing for at least once or twice per month to be considered as our national food! So we definitely know our beans! Besides “Fasolada”, another popular Greek recipe is called “Fakes” or “Faki” which is a lentil soup recipe. Both those 2 soups were the types of food which we disliked as youngsters but we craved as adults because not only they taste great but they are also very nutritious. So since you are probably eager to cook them, let me first give you a couple of tips on how to spot the good from the bad and what not to do when cooking beans!
What NOT to do when cooking beans
Do not salt ANY beans unless they are cooked or nearly cooked. When you salt them early on your cooking they get tough and no matter how long you cook them afterward it will be hard to remove that toughness. For the same reason, you should also avoid adding any acidity to them like vinegar, fresh tomato juice, or lemon juice before they are cooked.
How to tell apart the old beans from the new
Legumes wrinkle and dry as they age so the older a legume is the more water and time they will require to cook. The wrinkles they produce when they age are fairly visible with the naked eye so you can’t miss them.
How to cook any DRIED beans from a bag or a can
The instructions provided below are for dried beans from a bag. The beans from a can are a processed product so all you have to do is rinse them under running water and use them as the recipe requires. Check out the list below, get your beans or legumes and let’s get cooking!
Types of Dried beans / legumes:
- White kidney beans (also known as Alubia bean)
- Red kidney beans
- Lima beans (also known as Giant beans)
- Cranberry beans or Pinto beans or Anasazi)
- Chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo)
- Black beans (also known as turtle beans)
- Black-eyed beans or Black-eyed peas
- Lentils (they come in various colors but most popular are the Khaki, which turns brown after cooked, and the red lentils)
- Yellow split peas (also known as Daal or Dahl)
- Green split peas
- Broad Beans dried (also know as Faba or Fava)
- Mung beans
Is there a way to cook beans fast?
If you are asking if there is a fast way to cook them without soaking them first then… Sure…! Just take them out of the bag, throw them in a pot with water cook them for an hour or two, and enjoy your gas, which will be guaranteed, throughout the day.
But there is a solution! If you forget to soak them overnight you can soak them in hot water for 1 hour. It won’t be the same with soaking overnight but it is better than no soaking them at all. After the soaking, you can use your pressure cooker to cook them as long as you follow the instructions below the recipe ingredients. This is the fastest method to cook beans without skipping the soaking.
How to cook DRIED beans with a speed cooker
We must be very careful when we use the Instant pot or a speed-cooker / pressure cooker to cook beans because they tend to foam a lot and they might close the airway of the valve in your speed-cooker. The safest way to cook beans in a speed-cooker is to bring them to a boil first and skim the foam they produce. After that it is safe to proceed with pressure cooking because they will not produce the same amount of foam again.
I have a great recipe for Chickpea soup with more detailed instructions.
- Soak them overnight or for 8 hours
- Αdd them to your pressure cooker with just enough fresh water to cover them and bring to a boil
- Skim the foam they will produce on top
- Salt them after they are cooked according to the instructions of your pressure cooker or recipe.
How to cook beans on stove pot (2 ways):
Instructions for the following beans:
White kidney beans
Black kidney beans
Red kidney beans
Chickpeas (they foam a lot)
Soak them overnight (The slow method)
- Fill a big bowl with water and soak them overnight (or 8 hours). In the morning drain them, give them one more good wash over running water and drain them again.
- Add them to a pot full of freshwater, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Skim the foam from the top (if there is any depending on your bean choice)
- Then reduce the heat to low and let them simmer for about 30-40 mins. Depending on the brand or variety of the white beans some require less and others more time to cook.
- Do NOT SALT them unless they are nearly cooked.
Soak for an hour (The fast method)
- Wash them very good in your kitchen sink.
- Add them in a pot full of water and bring to a boil.
- Skim the foam they will produce on top
- Then turn off the heat and let them soak for 1 hour.
- Drain them and add them to the pot again with fresh water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and let them simmer for 30-35 min.
- Do NOT SALT unless they are cooked.
How to cook Black-eyed beans/peas
- Fill a big bowl with water and give them a good wash using your hands in circular movements and drain them.
- Fill a pot with fresh water, add your beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and let them simmer for 7 minutes.
- Then, drain them in your kitchen sink and add them again into the pot with boiling fresh water.
- Then reduce the heat to low and let them simmer for about 30 min. Depending on the brand, variety, and age of the beans some require less and others more time to cook.
- Do NOT SALT them unless they are cooked.
How to cook Lentil
- Spread them on a plate and remove any discolored or unmatching beans.
- Fill a pot with fresh water, add your lentil, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and let them simmer for 7 minutes.
- Then, drain them in your kitchen sink (without rinsing them) and add them again into the pot with fresh water.
- Bring them to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and let them simmer for about 30 min.
- Depending on the brand or variety of your lentil some require less and others more time to cook.
How to cook Yellow / green split peas:
- Add them to a big bowl and remove any discolored or unmatching beans.
- Fill a big bowl with water and give them a good wash using your hands in circular movements. Drain and repeat the washing 2 more times until the water comes out relatively clean with no foaming.
- Add them to a pot with measured freshwater. For every 100g of yellow split peas 1 cup of water. They usually come in a package of 500g so you will use 5 cups of water for that amount. Note that the water requirements for yellow split peas vary a little depending on the brand you are choosing.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and remove the foam they will produce on top.
- Reduce the heat to low and let them simmer for 40-50 minutes or until they are easily breakable with a spoon.
- While they simmer you should check them and stir once or twice before they are done.
I have actually a recipe on how to make a smooth Greek Fava (yellow split peas soup) a Greek meze recipe here.
Did you make this recipe? Or are you planning to make it? Let me know in the comments below, tag me on Instagram @freshpiato or show me your photos on Pinterest!