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Old 05-24-2006, 11:41 PM   #1
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Cooking beans with minimal ingredients

I'm a total beginer and I'm trying to learn what tastes go well by adding them one at a time. I'm also trying to eat healthy and low sodium. And, since I'm cooking mostly for one, I find most recipes frustrating. I just want to learn some ingredient combining basics.

Permit me to mine the database here; this is my first post.

Let me start with beans: what is the simplest way to eat beans? Soak them, simmer them and then add what? What one or two spices or seasonings would one start with; the minimum below which no one would like them. Salt and pepper, sure but I'm eschewing the salt so besides those two what are the basics?

Thanks in advance,

Donald
Richmond Virginia

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Old 05-24-2006, 11:49 PM   #2
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i understand minimalism, but 'm not sure how or why anyone would want to make something that no one woul like. however, i would use a stock (veggie, chicken, etc.) to simmer the beans. and for an extremely simple addition, i would go with roasted garlic.

you could add just about any other single common herb, like parsley, rosemary, thyme, bay, sage, oregano, etc., and you have a whole new flavor profile.

other additions that don't take too much away from the bean flavor are chopped and wilted greens, or sweated mild onions.
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:28 AM   #3
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If I just had to add two ingredients to beans (apart from salt and pepper) it would be lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Or ev-oo and a herb, such as parsley.
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Old 05-25-2006, 08:38 AM   #4
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I know you are trying to go low sodium, but don't go no sodium, at least with beans. In my opinion beans need salt to bring out the flavor. You do not need to use a lot, but you do need some.
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Old 05-25-2006, 09:12 AM   #5
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I also agree about the salt. You need some salt in food, to improve the taste. That does not mean you should go overboard with it.

I always add some ham to my beans. If you're just cooking one pound of dry beans, soak them overnight, drain, then simmer with about 4 oz or so of ham. I also like to add 1/2 c or so of chopped onions, a bay leaf, and black pepper. I won't add any salt until the beans are done. Then, I taste it, and if it needs any (remember, the ham is salty), I'll add a little.
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Old 05-25-2006, 11:59 AM   #6
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In Italy you often enjoy white beans seasoned only with sage, evoo and salt. Or rosemary, evoo and salt.

When done correctly, they are sublime, IMO. But many people find them bland and boring.
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Old 05-25-2006, 12:09 PM   #7
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Allen.. is there a reason not to add salt until the end of cooking time? All my MIL's bean/lentil recipes say add the salt after cooking but, she can't tell me why.
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Old 05-25-2006, 12:36 PM   #8
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From what I understand, adding salt before the end of cooking time can turn the beans quite hard.
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Old 05-25-2006, 12:37 PM   #9
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Supposedly if the salt is added early on it makes the beans tough. I have heard this is not true, but just an old wives tale though. This is just hearsay though as I have never cooked beans from scratch before so I have no first hand knowledge.
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:37 PM   #10
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Adding salt won't toughen the beans. This comes from a bunch of food scientists (eg Shirley and Rbt. Wolke) as well as my too many years of cooking with dry beans.

Like Alton Brown says "if you wait unti they're finished to add the salt they're going to taste like papier-mâché."

Tough beans generally mean the beans were old. The two other contributing factors are acidic ingredients (wine, tomatoes) and hard water.
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