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I don't need to overthink it, the plate as-is is quite gross.
August 9, 2010 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I want to like beans, but the texture is generally too mushy or mealy. What are some recipes that get around this?

The texture of beans ruins chili, rice and beans, and so many other typical bean dishes for me; I'd like to find some bean recipes I can enjoy.

So far, I'm I'm good with making hummus from chick peas and sprouts from mung beans. I want to try roasting chick peas soon. What are some ideas for using beans outside their standard form? This can include other beans that work well pureed, roasted, or as sprouts. Recipes, please!
posted by Wossname to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you have a pressure cooker? They work miracles on beans, rendering them deliciously creamy and wonderful and magical. Here's a great recipe for Thai-style curried chickpeas in the pressure cooker.
posted by hansbrough at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2010


I'm not sure if bean patties/cakes are far enough from standard for you, but they're delicious. Here is a version with Mexican flavors. It calls for coarsely mashed beans, but I've found you can use pureed also (might need a bit more egg/cornmeal/flour/etc.). You can keep the proportions of beans, egg, and cornmeal, but switch up the type of bean and spices. I like mashed white beans with rosemary and red onions. Mmmm!
posted by Knicke at 12:28 PM on August 9, 2010


Bittman's skillet recipe for chick peas and chorizo works. So does Heidi Swanson's chipotle gigantes. Perhaps flageolets or fresh broad beans in a vinaigrette? Frilled fresh favas? Lots of white beans will puree equally well as chickpeas, too.

The mealiness of a bean can often relate to its freshness; I also tend to think that the canned beans exhibit the mush/meal issue more than good dried beans that you've cooked yourself to the point -- either pressure-cookes, or long, low and slow in a crockpot -- where they're either tender or creamy. Rancho Gordo gets a lot of press, but it's well-deserved: if you've been put off beans in chili by canned pintos or kidney beans, the little beans like Santa Maria Pinquito will be a revelation.
posted by holgate at 12:39 PM on August 9, 2010


Adding salt early on in the cooking process can prevent beans from softening up too much.
posted by Aquaman at 12:42 PM on August 9, 2010


Beans can work well in salads, where you have plenty of crunchy/crispy things to balance their mushiness. (Also, the beans aren't cooked to death in many of these recipes, like they are in many Mexican dishes)

Also, if you're trying to get to like beans for health reasons, consider lentils, which have many of the same nutritional properties, taste better, and are only mushy if you overcook them.
posted by schmod at 12:43 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd recommend cooking up some beans from dried, something basic like navy beans or red beans, and checking the texture to see whether it's overcooked beans or undercooked beans that bother you.

Tradition holds that adding salt keeps beans from softening, but most food-techs these days seem to disagree. One thing both agree on is that acid (most often in the form of tomatoes, but also lemon or vinegar) keeps the beans from disintegrating - in chili (with tomaotes), beans are usually whole, while my favorite white-bean soup (tomatoless) is sort of mushy split-skinned beans in a base soup of beany goodness.
posted by aimedwander at 12:53 PM on August 9, 2010


In line with what aimedwander says, try re-hydrating dried beans instead of buying canned. Packed in water, canned beans are very soft and sometimes mushy, whereas a well re-hydrated bean holds its shape and integrity much better, even after cooking. I've found dried beans to be much more toothsome, and don't get as mushy or mealy.
posted by slogger at 1:14 PM on August 9, 2010


Soup. If you can find good soup recipes, you're good as gold.

I have the same issue as you. I hate the mushiness inside the skin of a bean. Especially kidney beans. It makes eating chili a challengeg.

But I love the taste of beans, which is why puréeing them into a soup is perfect. I don't have any recipes on hand, but good ones are easy to track down online.
posted by fso at 1:17 PM on August 9, 2010


A white bean puree flavored with garlic, pesto, and/or roasted tomatoes is very yummy. Serve with toasted bread. You can also mix in a boiled potato or two to minimize the grainy texture that beans have (though canned beans have less of that texture than beans cooked from dried).

If you can find fresh cranberry beans, give those a go. Boil them for an hour or so, then toss with olive oil and lemon. Cranberry beans are big, meaty beans. They have a lot of flavor, and their texture is really quite different from most other beans.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:20 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The OP says:
What are some ideas for using beans outside their standard form?
i.e. he's not looking for tips on cooking whole beans, he's looking for things to do other than eat 'em whole.

In that vein, I give you black bean brownies and bean pie, both of which are better than you might think.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:22 PM on August 9, 2010


Seconding Rancho Gordo. Bean quality is everything. Good quality plain beans with some salt and olive oil can blow your mind. You really can't go terribly wrong if you're using snooty $4/lb beans.

Fresh fava beans can be great this time of year. I think Bittman's "How to cook everything vegetarian" has a recipe for fried fava beans, hard boiled eggs and bread crumbs that will rock your world.

Getting good beans and cooking from one of Bittman's two big tomes will fix all your problems.
posted by pjaust at 1:30 PM on August 9, 2010


Thank you, nebulawindphone. I have slow-cooked my own beans from scratch, and while they're worlds better than canned, I still can't get past the texture. Lentils are about the extent of what I can tolerate texture-wise.
posted by Wossname at 1:35 PM on August 9, 2010


I can understand the thing about bean texture - I like it a lot, but for some it can be a little weird.

Either way, a great thing to do with chickpeas is to crisp them up in some oil, like the Mark Bittman recipe that holgate posted. A simplified version would be to just heat some olive oil, dump in cooked (but well-dried) beans (canned are fine, especially for chickpeas) and fry until crispy. Then just throw in some spinach and cook until it's wilted.

If you like lentil soup, you could start investigating the wide world of dals.
posted by rossination at 1:38 PM on August 9, 2010


To expand on rossination's suggestion of lentils, French lentils in particular are said to stay firmer than most lentils. Lentils in general do not get as mushy as other legumes, and have the added bonus of not requiring as much soaking and cooking time as most dried beans and peas.

Another, more out of the box suggestion is boiled peanuts. They are generally considered a snack food and people forget they are legumes, but they can be used in other ways. A number of African cuisines, in particular, use "ground nuts" with tasty results, as do some Asian recipes. In my limited experience African recipes use peanuts as legumes and Asian recipes use them more as nuts, but I may well be wrong.
posted by TedW at 2:01 PM on August 9, 2010


Seconding French lentils (de puy, or in that style) - they're much firmer that other lentils and not at all mealy.

I love this mujadarrah recipe - lentils and rice with caramelized onions.

Since you like hummus, you might like black bean dip or white bean dip. I don't have good recipes offhand, but you can probably find some online, or someone else can reccommend them.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:08 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I leave the cooking of beans to professionals (I'm not recommending you buy from Amazon).
posted by neuron at 2:35 PM on August 9, 2010


Has nobody mentioned falafel yet? There's a great bean disguise. I third giving French lentils (Lentils du Puy) a try; they don't go to mush as quickly as regular lentils, and they have a better, heartier flavor.

Edamame are a bit more crisp and meaty than most beans, and they couldn't be easier to cook from frozen. Here's an old recipe of mine for an asparagus and edamame salad. You might also consider picking up some chickpea flour. You can find it (labeled "besan" or "gram flour") at your local Indian market; Bob's Red Mill makes it too. Chickpea flour can be used to make various savory pancakes or chickpea patties. It's also easy to season and mix into a thick batter to deep-fry vegetables as pakora, and it has about a million more uses in Indian cuisine as well.

And finally, there really is an art to bean cooking to avoid mush and mealiness. I love my pressure cooker, but I wouldn't recommend it if mealiness bothers you. I'd say if you ever decide you want to give "regular" beans another shot, saute your aromatics, add soaked beans and salt and some acid source, and simmer them very, very gently in plenty of liquid, and watch them like a hawk for doneness. You might even consider the oven method. This recipe for beans in summery tomato ragu uses the oven, and acid, for a low-mealiness result.
posted by jocelmeow at 4:00 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mujadarrah is awesome, especially with full-fat yogurt! Beans are also delicious and less mushy (to me, anyway) in foods like burritos and quesadillas.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 11:44 PM on August 9, 2010


jocelmeow beat me to the falafel suggestion. if you weren't told they were made from beans, you'd never know.
posted by jrishel at 9:40 AM on August 10, 2010


Refried beans!

Cook up some beans -- I like black beans.

Heat up some oil or, if you're not averse, good quality lard! Saute some diced onion in the oil/lard, just until it gets good and soft. Sprinkle some cumin into the oil and cook for 30 seconds or so to let it bloom.

Now you're reading to add your beans. Do it a bit at a time -- maybe a cup or so at a time. Each time you add more beans, do the following:

Stir the beans into the onion/spice mixture (and other beans in successive additions). Cook briefly -- maybe 30 seconds. Then pull out a potato masher and start mashing the beans. You can use a fork if you're using a shallow enough pan so that you can get in there with your hands, but a potato masher works really well. Mash mash mash! Get into the corners and mash some more! As the beans start to take on a creamy aspect, add more beans. Repeat.

Serve hot, topped with cotija cheese for a side dish. Or spread onto chalupa shells and top with cheddar cheese and run under the broiler for homemade nachos. Or spread onto flour tortillas, top with cheese and other goodies, and cook in a skillet for quesadillas. The options are endless!
posted by devinemissk at 11:34 AM on August 10, 2010


I wanted to bring up bean-cooking one more time, because how you cook them, as opposed to simply how long you cook them, determines their texture, and you may find that you can get high-quality beans and cook them in a way that satisfies your tongue.

According to Bittman in "How To Cook Everything", you can determine the texture of the beans a few different ways. Salting them during soaking or early in the cooking process is more likely to make them gritty/mealy, and cause them to break up. Wait until they begin to become tender, and then add salt. If you like them more firm, add up to 2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice with the salt. If you want them rich and creamy, add a cup or two of milk or some butter or oil to the cooking water. The texture may still not suit you, but I definitely think it's worth a try.

Adzuki, cannellini, pinto, cranberry, fava, and navy beans are all capable of having a creamy consistency. Given that beans are pretty much interchangeable flavor-wise, you may want to choose those beans over others when you're cooking.
posted by moira at 3:22 PM on August 12, 2010


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