Legumes are a fundamental food for our diet, a healthy and nutritious ingredient that should never be missing in our pantries. We can buy them already cooked and ready to become protagonists of soups, but how can we cook dried legumes? Here is a small and practical guide to do it without mistakes.
Beans, chickpeas, lentils, wild peas and broad beans: we are talking about legumes, small great allies of our health and protagonists of infinite recipes. Valuable ingredient for our diet, legumes can be compared to meat for the huge amount of protein they contain.
Very often we don’t have so much time to cook, and so we prefer to use pre-cooked or canned legumes for our soups: but to best enjoy them, preserving their flavor and properties, it is preferable to choose dried legumes. Of course the cooking times can be a little longer, but the result is definitely worth the effort: so here is a simple guide, explained step by step, for cooking dried legumes.
Soaking: when, how much and how
Before being cooked, all dried legumes must be soaked in cold water for some time and it is for this reason that it is always better to decide in advance when to cook them (deciding the day before is certainly the best way). Soaking is used to rehydrate the starch and fibers contained in legumes and, of course, to soften them before cooking. The soaking period varies from a minimum of 2 hours for some types of lentils and peas, to a maximum of 24 hours for undecorticated wild beans; all the other legumes (beans, chickpeas, etc.) must remain in cold water for about 12 hours. If reported on the package, in some cases you will be advised to change the water once or twice during the soaking period and, after the necessary time has elapsed, you will only have to rinse your legumes with running water and cook them, so let's see how .
Once washed and drained, you can cook your legumes following some small tips:
Always put the legumes on the stove in cold and salt-free water.
The salt should be added only a few minutes before the end of cooking.
If more water is needed during cooking, be careful to add it hot and not cold.
The water needed for cooking varies according to the legume you want to cook: in the case of lentils, double the volume will be needed, for the beans the water must be triple the volume, while for the chickpeas the recommended amount it is four times the volume of the legume.
Cooking times, just like soaking times, change according to the legume you are going to cook:
The chickpeas will have to cook about 2 or 3 hours.
Depending on size and variety, beans and broad beans will need a cooking time that varies from one to two hours.
Lentils will not have to cook more than 40 minutes, in some cases just 20 minutes will be enough.
The best way to know if your legumes are cooked and ready to be eaten, the advice is always and only to taste.