Beans are a nutritious and economical choice for anyone wishing to eat a healthier diet as well as looking to get a little extra protein. With so many varieties of beans and preparation methods available, you are sure to find a few recipes that work well for you and your family. Learn about shopping, storing, and preparing beans, and also try the featured recipe, which may just become a new favorite.
Shopping for beans
Choose beans that are uniformly sized and brightly colored. If you can see the beans before purchase, look for signs of insect damage, and don’t purchase them if many of the beans are cracked or broken. A small amount of dirt or debris sometimes is found in dried beans.
You can store most dry beans, if well sealed, in a cool area for nearly 1 year. You can store leftover beans in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can freeze cooked beans.
Rinse beans under cold water. Dried beans usually are soaked in cold water prior to cooking, often for 8 hours or overnight, in 2-3 cups of water to every 1 cup of beans, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you can place beans in a pot of water and bring to a boil for 2 minutes, and then remove from the heat and allow beans to soak for 2-3 hours. Soaking the beans softens and rehydrates them, drastically reducing cooking time and eliminating some of their gas producing sugars.
Crock-Pots and slow cookers are excellent alternatives for preparing beans. Canned beans can also shorten preparation and cooking times.
Black Bean Pizza
1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped zucchini
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
Press dough into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 425 degrees F for 4-6 minutes or until crust just begins to brown.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add zucchini; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add the beans and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 2 minutes; drain. Sprinkle 2/3 cup of cheese over crust. Top with bean mixture and remaining cheese. Bake 8-10 minutes longer or until crust is browned and cheese is melted.
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