Over the weekend we had some friends come over to eat lunch with us, so I made a big pot of wicked vegan white beans. Usually, I add one turkey or chicken sausage to add flavor to the beans, but this time I made vegan beans, and the consensus was that they tasted pretty wicked (good!).
The navy bean is a small creamy white bean that gets its name because they were used as a staple food by the American Navy at the turn of the 20th century. After I saw the nutrition chart at whfoods.org, I could understand why navy beans were chosen as a staple. Just one cup provides you with 64% daily folate needs, and 51% manganese needs; both of these help lower your risk of heart attack. Also, according to whfoods.org, white beans give you energy while stabilizing your blood sugar levels, and they are a good source of soluble fiber and protein. Hmm…just writing this makes me think I should put on another pot. Keep in mind that legumes are an incomplete protein, so they should be eaten in the company of brown rice, nuts, or whole wheat bread.
I learned to love white beans in Spain, where my stepmother makes them often in her pressure cooker. The Spanish variety is close in flavor to the navy bean, though it is a bit larger and creamier. I know that some people don’t like to eat beans because they worry they might get gas. If you have this concern try blending them make a puree to avoid that problem. You don’t want to miss out on all the benefits beans these beans offer. Go ahead and give them a try! (Please keep in mind that the beans must be pre-soaked overnight before cooking.)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes (for pressure cooker)
Servings: 10 or more
1 1/4 pounds navy white beans, soaked in water overnight
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
5 carrots, peeled and sliced to 1¼-inch thickness
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 ¼ teaspoons spicy Spanish paprika,
1 large bay leaf
¾ pound fresh spinach, stalks removed and discarded
Note about soaking beans: for best results, use beans that you know are not old. Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with enough water so there are at least 4 inches of water over the level of the beans. Soak beans overnight so they have a good 20 to 24 hours in water. You might also add a small pinch of baking soda to act as a tenderizer.
Cooking Beans: You can cook the beans in one on three ways,
1.) Pressure cooker – Cooking time is 25 to 30 minutes on medium-low
2.) Crock pot – 6 hours
3.) Stove top – place in an 8-quart stockpot and cook until tender—approximately
My personal preference is the pressure cooker as the cooking time is reduced by an hour compared to the stove top method.
1) Sauté the garlic in the olive oil for one to two minutes without letting it burn. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they are translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
2) Add the paprika and let it cook with the onions for a minute.
3) Ad the chopped tomatoes and cook 2 minutes.
4) Drain the white beans and rinse them well. Add the beans to the onions and then add the add the carrots, and the bay leaf and mix them in well. Cover with enough water to be about 1½ inch over the level of the beans.
4) Cook the beans according using one of the above methods: pressure cooker, crock pot, or stove top.
5) When the beans are cooked and they are tender, add the salt and stir well, and then add the spinach and stir just until they are wilted; 1 to 2 minutes.