Because using dried beans requires that I plan in advance, getting into the swing of it has been slow-going. The first time I cooked with dried beans, I was nervous, but the beans turned out great, and I was so excited about how easy the process was; I resolved to cook dried beans again soon.
Weeks and weeks went by, and before I knew it, I was feeling nervous and reluctant again. But I finally made myself do it. Once more, I was amazed at how easy it was. “I must do this again soon!” I told myself. Can you guess what happened next? I forgot about dried beans.
One of my issues was that they tell you soak the beans “overnight,” but they don’t tell you what to do with them the next day. Well, dear recipe writer, some people don’t have the luxury of staying home all day to cook beans. They have to leave the kitchen and go to work. What are they supposed to do with the beans in the mean time? Let them continue to soak? Will something bad happen to them if they keep soaking? Can I put the whole pot in the fridge? Do I drain them and put them in the fridge? Drain them and leave them on the counter?
I soon realized that “overnight” was code for “8 to 10 hours.” Oh, okay, so I can soak them while I’m at work and cook them when I get home! Perfect. Except that I have to actually remember to put them in the pot before I leave in the morning. I’ve found that it helps to leave the bag of dried beans sitting on top of my purse the night before. Nine times out of 10, I’ll realize that they’re there for a reason (and not because I need to take them to work). Even though I figured out this little soak-the-beans-while-I’m-at-work trick months ago, I still get a little panicky every time I read “soak the beans overnight.” I just have to keep reminding myself that they can soak by the light of day.
Almost a year later, I’m finally starting to get this dried bean thing; I’ve cooked them twice this week! Twice! In one week! I feel very accomplished. On Wednesday, we made a pot of black beans to go with our turkey taco salad, and yesterday we made hummus!
One of the great tragedies of the months and months it took me to come to terms with dried beans was that, in all that time, I didn’t make hummus. We love hummus around here. It’s been a go-to party appetizer for years. It’s easy, quick*, healthy, filling, inexpensive, and always a hit. Brian has been talking about having hummus for months, but if you know me, you know that nothing but the most dire circumstances will motivate me to buy premade anything I am capable of making from scratch. So it was a great relief to finally make hummus again!
*Preparing the dried beans takes time, but if you cook a big pot (see below), you can freeze them to have on hand whenever you feel like whipping up a batch of hummus!
Homemade Hummus (from dried beans)
Preparing the Beans
This recipe makes about 6 cups of beans (2.5 pounds) – enough for 3 batches of hummus. It can easily be halved or doubled.
1 pound (2 cups) dried garbanzos beans (a.k.a. chickpeas)Pick through the beans, removing any dark or shriveled beans. Rinse thoroughly in a colander or mesh strainer.
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
In a medium-sized pot, cover the beans with cool water and soak for 8-10 hours.
Drain the beans. Return beans to pot and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Add water, as needed, the keep the beans covered.
When the beans are cooked, remove from heat and stir in ½ teaspoon salt, if using. Allow the beans to cool for 30 minutes. They will also soak up the salt during this time.
Drain the beans. (If desired, you can reserve the cooking liquid to thicken soup.)
Set aside what you will be using immediately and freeze the rest. The most convenient way to do this is to freeze 2-cup portions in freezer-safe containers.
(Frozen beans can be thawed at room temperature, in a bowl of warm water, or in the microwave.)
Making the Hummus
Yield about 4 cups.
2 cups (12 ounces) cooked garbanzo beansCombine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. If the hummus is too dry, add water and/or olive oil to reach desired consistency.
In a pinch, you can sub canned beans (2 cups drained).
¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tablespoons)
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: If you prefer your hummus particularly garlicky or lemony, feel free to adjust to taste.