Dried beans and peas – limas, pinto, red, black-eyed peas, garbanzo (chickpeas), and Great Northern, to name a few – are favorites in Greek cooking, and easy on the family budget as well.
Beans are easy to make, but often not especially quick since most need to be soaked for at least 6 hours, and even those that don’t need soaking can require extended cooking time.
In many markets, canned beans and peas are available, and – while my traditional cooking instincts say “soak then cook” – for many cooks, the canned varieties are a quick and easy option, and can produce delicious results. Here’s how:
- If possible, look for the “organic” label. They may be more expensive, but quality counts.
- Check the label to make sure the beans haven’t been canned with other vegetables, spices, or additives that you don’t want in your final dish. (The biggest culprit here is usually high sodium content, but can also include preserving additives, coloring agents, and more.)
- Drain and rinse the beans well under running water. This will remove any of the ingredients used simply for canning, but it will not remove the taste of anything originally cooked with the beans (the reason to check the label in step 2).
Note: A standard 14 to 15oz can of beans equals approximately 1 1/2 cups of drained beans; dried beans, after soaking, will expand to around 3 times their volume (i.e., 2 cups of dried beans will expand to about 6 cups of soaked beans).
One advantage of using good quality canned beans is the ability to make 5-minute recipes. If canned beans are part of your life, follow the steps above and give these recipes a try:
5-Minute Recipes with Canned Beans & Other Legumes
As a final note, remember that whatever is used to cook, season, and preserve the beans will be absorbed while they’re in the can. Rinsing and draining will remove what’s on the outside, but not the inside… so, for that authentic Greek taste in your recipes, cooking the dried beans from scratch is always best.