Friday, September 3, 2010

While you sleep...

Soak something! Some foods are not cooked so much because they take time, like beans and bread. Having been a vegetarian for about a decade I knew of the importance of pulses in a diet. But it takes so much planning: most of them (apart from lentils) need to soak for at least an hour, then cook for at least as long. In some countries though they are a staple and can be eaten at pretty much every meal. India has dhal, Cuba and Mexico have red bean on rice or with wraps.
When I was young I pictured beans as being boring to eat, although we always loved eating tortillas! Why do beans have such a bad press? Over the years I have "discovered" a number of ways to have beans that are just delicious: persian lentil broth with fried onion and lime, a good dhal, refried beans and the classic baked beans (with a variation here) are just a few. You can also make some great dips, like hummus.
We don't often keep cans, which is an easy way to have beans handy, we buy the dried pulses in bulk (we are lucky to be part of an organic coop). So I have to plan in advance when I'm going to cook with pulses because the grains need to soak first. Soaking them at night is a great option, in the morning or whenever I need them I just sieve them and put them in a pot. So here's what I made yesterday with some black beans I'd soaked overnight: black bean brownies (here's a variation of the recipe I used). And today we're having nachos with black beans and a canellini dip.

When I make sourdough bread, I do the same and let the starter proof overnight so it is ready to use the next morning when I get up.

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