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Thursday, June 11, 2015

6 Beans You've Never Heard Of


It's time to branch out from the basic bean. While we love the humble black bean or chili's defining kidney bean, mixing in one of these offbeat bean types can add unique texture, flavor, and colors to a favorite meal. Experiment with these 6 types of beans to discover new dishes or put a different spin on familiar c 
Adzuki Beans
This simple red bean with a thin white line is amazingly healthy. "In addition to giving you a leg up in the iron department, these members of the legume tribe are good for the adrenal glands, which in turn can help relieve stress on the body," says Alicia Silverstone, author of The Kind Mama. "While all beans are amazingly good for you, adzuki beans pack an extra punch. Adzukis are known for their supercharged healing properties, especially for reproductive function." 
Anasazi
Heirloom varieties of this bean are shaped like kidney beans and have red and cream splotches. Anasazi beans originate from the American Southwest and have roots going back into ancient times of Native American culture. Plus, they cook quickly, so you can cook skip the pre-soak. 
Chana Dal Beans
These goldenrod-colored disks are the split kernel of a variety of chickpea. Chana dal beans are often used in Middle Eastern cuisines, so try using spices like turmeric, cloves, garlic, or cardamom to season them. Transport your kitchen to India with this Chana Dal With Zucchini recipe from  
Cranberry Beans
While a cranberry bean echoes the shape of a kidney bean, you'll be able to spot the difference a mile away because of the streaks of white and cranberry red. Diane Kochilas, author of Ikaria, serves up these beans with onions and collard greens. Spritz with a little lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy. "Collards and mottled beans create a very earthy final casserole," says Kochilas. "Both beans and greens should be soft and comforting then enlivened by the addition of lemon juice." Keep an eye out for these guys at your farmer's market, as they can often be found fresh. 
Mung Beans
Get creative with your Mung beans by making bindeatteok, a traditional Korean mung bean pancake. "Bindaetteok look quite a bit like latkes and are very similar to falafel, but instead of being deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas (or fava beans), bindaetteok are flat cakes made with ground dried mung beans, water, and a little seasoning and shallow-fried until super crispy," says Marja Vongerichten, author of The Kimchi Chronicles.

Orca Beans
Colored like orca whales, these black-and-white beans have a mild flavor and creamy texture. Orca beans are an heirloom variety from Mexico and go well in thick soups or with rice. Keep in mind that you may want to cook these beans separately and add them afterward to your soups and stews, as cooking can turn the water black.
Adventure away from your normal chili recipe and try this Orca Bean Chili by Bob's Red Mill.
Recipe for Any Bean
There's just no wrong way to eat beans. "Simple Pleasure in a Pot of Beans is my go-to recipe for all beans," says Erin Scott, author of Yummy Supper. "We tend to make a pot of beans a week, and the satisfaction lasts and lasts."
Simple Pleasure in a Pot of Beans
Ingredients:
1 pound dried beans
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 dried bay leaf or ½ teaspoon ground epazote
1 Tablespoon smoked sea salt
Directions:
1. Thoroughly rinse the beans under cool tap water, then place in a stockpot or Dutch oven. Cover with ample cool water, at least 3" to 4" above the beans. Let the beans soak at room temperature overnight.
2. Once you're ready to cook the next day, make sure that your beans are covered by at least 2" of water. There's no need to drain the soaking water if it still looks clear; just pour in a little more. Bring the liquid to a boil, then turn the heat down to maintain a nice simmer. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface. After you are done skimming the foam, add the garlic, bay leaf or epazote, and the smoked salt to the pot. Partially cover the pot, and let those beans simmer away gently.
3. While the beans cook, make sure at least 1" of water is covering the little guys during the entire cooking process. Add more liquid as needed. Don't worry about having extra water when your beans are done cooking; that liquid can be used in a good bean soup.
4. Cook the beans until tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the type, size, and age of the bean, and can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2½ hours. Fish out and discard the bay leaf before serving.
Variations:
• For a quick weeknight supper, we'll eat warm bowls of beans mixed with sautéed greens, chopped avocado, and salsa.
• Add half the cooked beans to a hearty stew and then freeze the rest for later use.
• You can also refry the beans with bacon or chorizo or simply top them with a generous handful of snipped fresh herbs.
• Roll a scoop of velvety beans in a warm corn tortilla, and everyone is happy.

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