Growing your own dried beans is easy – if you have the room. If not, buying organic dried or canned beans is a great alternative. Whatever way you choose, beans are the powerhouse vegetable – full of protein, fiber and many vitamins and other nutrients. But Americans do not eat enough beans. Why? Because of their reputation for, ahem, causing socially unacceptable odiferous bodily functions. This is too bad because the irony is, if you eat beats regularly and frequently, your gut’s microflora adapt, allowing them to aid in digesting the alpha galactosides which cause flatulence. Cool beans, huh?
I have been all over the map on the best way to prepare dried beans, and have researched and discovered that many of the methods touted as necessary to render the beans “safe,” are in fact unnecessary and diminish the flavor and consistency of the beans. So, if starting with dried beans, the most important question is, how fresh are they? They older the dried bean, the drier the bean, and the longer to cook. You will also see a loss of flavor in very old beans. This is where growing your own is so nice, as so many of the beans you might buy at the grocery are actually quite old, plus you will never find the extraordinary variety in the store, that you can grow in your own garden. Almost better to buy canned beans than old dried beans, especially if you can find organic beans canned in food safe containers. Canned beans are actually semi-cooked during the canning process, making your job as chef much easier.
Here is my easy recipe for FOUR BEAN VEGETARIAN CHILI
For 4-6 servings, use 4 – 15 oz cans of 4 different varieties of beans. Usually you can find Black, Pinto, Navy and Lima, which make a nice flavor combination. Or use an equivalent amount of dried beans, prepared by boiling for 1/2 hour and draining. If using canned beans, drain beans, but retain juices/gravy.
1 -2 Cups Fresh, Canned or Frozen Corn
Saute 1/2 – 1 Chopped Sweet (not yellow) Onion
2 Cloves minced garlic
28 ounces Small Diced Tomatoes (canned or fresh) with juices
1 Fresh Jalapeno Pepper (Green without striations and with seeds removed is mild; red with striations is hottest, but remove seeds; Adjust to your taste)
1 large stalk cleaned celery, diced fine
Chipotle Chili Powder to taste (Chipotle powder is made from smoked red Jalapenos but imparts a richer flavor than fresh Jalapenos)
1-2 Fresh/Dried Red Chilis, seeds removed
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Saute onion and garlic in 2-3 Tablespoons good oil over medium heat until soft. Do not let the garlic over brown/burn. I like to use Roasted Walnut Oil because of the flavor it adds, but you can use Olive or any other good healthy oil. Add celery and jalapeno and other pepper. Saute till soft.
Add drained beans, tomatoes, corn. Add sufficient of the retained bean juices (if canned) to cover the beans. [Hint: I also like to add some beer to this mix – the alcohol cooks off but the flavor is improved.] You can cover and saute at low temp or in slow cooker at this point for about an hour. Check seasonings / salt & pepper and cover and saute/slow cook until done. If stove-top, that would be another hour or two. If slow cooker on high 3-4 hours
Soooooooooooooo easy. Soooooooooooooo good and satisfying. Wonderful served hot with grated sharp cheddar & sour cream. Good sides are corn bread/muffins and tossed greens salad with vinaigrette dressing. Enjoy!