If you are new to cooking and you would really prefer to simplify the process, feel free to go for canned legumes. We, on the other hand, recommend cooking the beans instead of buying canned, and here we will explain how it works step by step.
1. Select the right quantity (we usually go with around 500 gr of dried beans and end up with about a kilo of cooked ones)
2. Clean the beans – especially valid for green lentils, go through them, so that there are no unwanted stones on your plate afterwards.
3. Soak the beans – I would usually leave them overnight, but 4-5 hours should be sufficient. Red lentils and split peas do not need to be soaked (Yaay!).
4. Put them in a big pot and pour water over them, so that it covers the beans, plus some 3 cm on top of them. Do not cover the pot. Trust me. When the beans start boiling, put the heat a bit down, so that the foam does not overflow.
5. Cook until ready. Here is a guide how to check if they are:
a. Green lentils – they get ready after about 20 minutes of cooking. Take a few lentils and feel them with a fork/spoon or your finger if you dare. They should feel soft.
b. Red lentils – you only need about 5-7 minutes. The red lentils get softer and larger.
c. Split peas – it takes 30-40 minutes to cook the split peas, they get softer and you know they are cooked when there is no white core in the middle of the pea.
d. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – they require about 60 minutes of cooking. Take 1-2 chickpeas and put them on a cutting board, cut through the chickpea, to be considered cooked it should not have a white core.
e. Beans (kidney, pinto, white cannellini) – it usually takes around 50 minutes to cook them. Take a few in a spoon and blow at them, if the skin starts peeling, they are done.
6. Once you have cooked the beans, use the quantity that you need for your recipe. The rest you can let cool and put in some containers and then into the fridge (if you are planning to eat them in the next 3-4 days) or better yet into the freezer. Next time you are cooking a recipe containing beans, just don’t forget to transfer your container from the freezer into the fridge the night before, so the beans thaw and are ready to jump into the pot.
It might seem like a lot of work, but it actually requires much more planning as compared to active cooking time. Plus it’s cheaper and healthier.
Good luck and Enjoy!