Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pressure Cooking Beans

Lately I've been eating a lot of legumes.  Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, red lentils, French lentils, green split peas and chana dal.  I've made chili and taco soup, black beans over polenta and black-eyed peas with greens, split pea soup with ham, red lentil soup with coconut milk, French lentil soup, Indian spiced chana dal and Ethiopian misser wot.

Green Split Peas
I crave legumes, especially heavily spiced lentils with rice or flat bread.  A couple of years ago there was an Ethiopian exhibit at the Pacific Science Center that highlighted the culture and history of that region, as well as the skeleton of Lucy.  Out of that visit I received an appreciation of how small ancient humans were and a fabulous cookbook called Lucy's Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia - Recipes From Afar and Near, created specifically for the exhibit itself.  Within the book there's a bit of history and lore interspersed with the most approachable Ethiopian recipes I've ever prepared.  A few years ago when my lovely friend Katie of My Homemade Year adopted her daughter, I gave Ethiopian cooking a go from recipes I printed off the internet... and utterly failed. Many times.  Now, souvenir book in hand, I succeed at every recipe I attempt, including spiced beans and lentils.
Chana Dal

Beans are good for you. You know this. You've heard this so many times that maybe you don't even think about it anymore. They are the highest-fiber food you can choose, over any type of fruit, veggie or whole grain. I was recently talking to another dietitian and she mentioned that both her and her husband had been diagnosed with high cholesterol, but they had lowered it through dietary changes -- namely, significantly upping their legume intake.  That's it.  Her husband's cholesterol dropped 60 points by eating beans everyday.  I can't guarantee that you'll lower your cholesterol by consuming legumes, but it's a great start!  If you want to learn more about cooking beans and gas reduction techniques, click here.

Beans soaking with kombu waiting to be pressure cooked

When possible I like to cook my beans from scratch, but I'm very impatient.  I boil enough water to cover the beans by an inch or two, I let the beans soak for an hour and then I pressure cook them.
My Pressure Cooker
Do you own a pressure cooker?  You can use it for anything you would typically prepare in a slow cooker, only it cooks very, very fast.  Forget to put the beef stew on the stove?  No problem!  After saut√©ing your veggies and meat, you can cook your stew in about 20 minutes in a pressure cooker.  When I prepare beans, after my quick soak, it takes 7-11 minutes to cook them in the pressure cooker.

Are you sold yet?

When I first started using a pressure cooker I was terrified it would explode in my face, but that has yet to happen.  Just pay attention and follow the instructions and you'll be fine.

What do you like to cook in your pressure cooker?  What are your favorite bean recipes?


  1. Have you tried the quick-soak method with your pressure cooker? It will definately take more of the undigestible sugars out of the beans than just simply soaking them for an hour!

    Here are the instructions:

    Would love to read one of your successful Ethiopian recipes!


    hip pressure cooking
    making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

  2. 3 Researches SHOW How Coconut Oil Kills Fat.

    The meaning of this is that you actually get rid of fat by eating coconut fat (also coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 studies from big medicinal journals are sure to turn the traditional nutrition world upside down!