Sign up for the Random.cooking newsletter

* indicates required

facebook logo


What are beans?

Beans are a type of legume, which are plants in the pea family that bear their seeds in pods. They are a staple food in many cultures and are a good source of protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. Some common types of beans include black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and pinto beans. They can be eaten cooked or canned and can also be used to make a variety of dishes such as chili, soups, and salads.

What are some different varieties of beans used in cooking?

There are many different varieties of beans used in cooking, some of the most common include:

  • Black Beans: These beans are small, glossy, and dark in color. They have a rich, earthy flavor and are commonly used in Latin American and Caribbean dishes.
  • Kidney Beans: These beans are large and kidney-shaped, with a reddish-brown color. They have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and are often used in chili and salads.
  • Navy Beans: These small, white beans are named for their use in the United States Navy in the early 20th century. They have a mild, delicate flavor and are commonly used to make baked beans and soups.
  • Pinto Beans: These beans are beige with maroon splotches and they have a mild, slightly earthy flavor. They are commonly used in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes.
  • Lima Beans: These beans are small, green or white, and have a buttery texture and a slightly sweet flavor. They are often used in stews and succotash.
  • Black-eyed peas: These are small, creamy white beans with a black spot on one end. They have a mild, earthy flavor and are often used in Southern dishes such as Hoppin’ John.
  • Chickpeas: Also known as garbanzo beans, these are round and beige, with a nutty, buttery flavor. They are used in Mediterranean, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and falafel.
  • Lentils: These are small, lens-shaped beans that come in a variety of colors, including green, brown, and red. They have a mild, earthy flavor and are often used in soups and stews.

How do you cook beans?

There are several ways to cook beans, including using a stovetop, a pressure cooker, and a slow cooker. Here is a basic method for cooking beans on the stovetop:

  1. Rinse and sort the beans: Rinse the beans under cold running water and remove any debris or small stones.
  2. Soak the beans: Place the beans in a large pot and add enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Let them soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans: Drain the soaking water and rinse the beans again.
  4. Add fresh water and seasonings: Add enough fresh water to the pot to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Add any desired seasonings, such as bay leaves, onion, garlic, or cumin.
  5. Simmer the beans: Let the beans simmer, partially covered, until they are tender. The cooking time will depend on the type and age of the beans, but can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  6. Check for doneness: Test a bean for doneness by taking one out and blowing on it, it should be soft and creamy, not hard or chalky.
  7. Drain and serve: Once the beans are cooked, drain any excess liquid and serve them as desired.

Please note that cooking time can vary depending on the variety of the bean, some may require pre-boiling and others may take longer. It’s best to check the specific cooking instructions of the beans you are using. Also, you can add salt only in the end of the cooking process, as it can prolong the cooking time.

What are some good dishes to make with beans?

Some popular dishes that can be made with beans include chili, black bean soup, refried beans, bean burritos, lentil stew, white bean and spinach curry, and bean and cheese quesadillas. Additionally, beans can be used to make dips such as hummus and bean dips, and can be added to salads and grain bowls for added protein.

Selected Recipes