Tag Archives: chickpeas

How to: Cook Dried Beans in a Slow Cooker

 

One of my all-time-favorite money-saving appliances is the handy dandy slow cooker. It is amazing at taking tough (cheap) cuts of meats and slow cooking them to tasty perfection. It is great for making wicked frugal soups and stews. It makes dinner a breeze on crazy weeknights, keeping me from just ordering a pizza or take out. And it allows me to make staple items, like beans, for literally pennies per serving.

Beans aren’t usually listed on “top 10s” of superfoods, but I think they should be. There are so many kinds, black, pinto, navy, chickpea, green… And they are a fantastic source of protein for a very pocketbook-friendly price, I can usually find them about $1 per pound. And since beans plump when you cook them, you get much more than one pound out of that bag. If you find a good sale or buy in bulk, that price drops even lower. You can’t beat that in a can!

However, you also can’t beat the convenience of canned beans. Just sitting on a shelf, ready and waiting for a taco Tuesday or a last-minute decision to make minestrone. All you need is a can opener and you’re in business.

But you’re paying a premium for that convenience.

Someone else took the time to soak and cook dried beans ahead of time, and stick them in that can. They also may have chemicals or preservatives or flavorings or way too much sodium in the can. When you cook your own, you are in control of all these things.

So here’s the big secret: You can cook your own dried beans at home, with just a few minutes of effort, and have delicious beans ready to toss into whatever any time! For, like, a dollar!

Enter the slow cooker.

crock pot black beans with nori

Almost every Saturday, I toss a half pound or a pound of either black, navy, chickpeas, or pintos into a slow cooker with water to cover them, and let them soak overnight. Then on Sunday, I change the water and add some spices and let it simmer all day. The finished product gets canned, separated by cup into individual bags and frozen, or put in the refrigerator for use that week.

That way I have a stock of frozen beans ready at a moment’s notice, and fresh beans for recipes whenever I want! Hello, black bean and egg burritos, white chicken chili, tortilla soup, or red beans and rice anytime.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound beans
  • Water to cover
  • ~2tbsp vinegar (any kind)
  • Spices recommended: 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp fennel seed, onion, chili powder, or oregano. Choose 1-2 you like and see what happens
  • Optional: 1 strip of seaweed

Step 1: Cover your beans with water, and let soak 6 hours or overnight. Drain, and cover again. Cook on high for about 4-6 hours, or low for 8-10.

Slow cooker pinto beans canned

Step 2: You can keep the cooking liquid, or discard, up to you. I usually keep it, especially when canning or freezing the beans, and then drain just before using in recipes.

The beautiful thing is that now you have this super-cheap base to use to make your own refried beans, hummus, (did you know you can make hummus with black beans too!), vegetarian burger patties, or you can can them for later. (By the way, do use a pressure canner, or keep them in the refrigerator. We don’t want botulism now do we?)

 

Slow cooker dried beans

Slow cooker dried beans

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beans
  • Water to cover
  • ~2tbsp vinegar (any kind)
  • Spices recommended: 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp fennel seed, onion, chili powder, or oregano. Choose 1-2 you like and see what happens
  • Optional: 1 strip of seaweed

Instructions

  1. Cover your beans with water, and let soak 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain, and cover again.
  3. Cook on high for about 4-6 hours, or low for 8-10.
  4. You can keep the cooking liquid, or discard, up to you. I usually keep it, especially when canning or freezing the beans, and then drain just before using in recipes.
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Almost Work-free Curry

 

Curry is one of my favorite meals ever, because you can make it in a crock pot and basically do no work, or in a sauce pot and also do almost no work!  I’m sure that there are curry recipes which take many exotic ingredients and hours of preparation, but for a basic recipe, and an American palate, curry is super simple.

This curry incorporates chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and other aromatic vegetables for an amazing, nutritious, tasty recipe.  I used basically a jar of salsa starter that I had canned earlier in the summer, but you can also use frozen veggies, or fresh diced veggies. This is very filling, especially if served over rice.  If you must have meat, feel free to also add some pork or chicken or beef.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced
  • 1 medium white or yellow potato, diced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • Optional: 1 tbsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp red chili pepper, 1 tbsp garam masala

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Step 1: Dice up the potatoes and throw them in a sauce pot or crock pot.  Add the diced tomatoes and vegetables.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer and cook 20-25 minutes.  (Or set to low and cook 2-4 hours).

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Step 2: Open the chickpeas and drain.  Add to the pot, along with any spices you want to use.  Cook just until everything is heated through, if using a crock pot, add about 30 minutes before serving.  If desired, boil some rice and serve with the curry, or you can serve with flat bread.

 

Homemade hummus & Flatbread

 

If you haven’t jumped on the hummus bandwagon yet, you should definitely consider it! Hummus is super heart-healthy, especially when made at home. And it is so very easy! Just put all the ingredients into a blender and whir for a minute or two, and presto! A tasty, healthy, fiber-full dip or snack.

This recipe is a basic recipe, great for pre-dinner appetizers, a party snack, or really anytime. You can get creative with roasted peppers, beets, green veggies, or really anything you set your mind to. Feel free to experiment with different nut butters if you don’t want to buy tahini. I’ve also made black bean hummus before, so you don’t even have to use chickpeas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  •  1/4 cup tahini
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4-6 tbsp lemon juice
  • Optional: Dash of paprika

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Step 1: Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until well mixed. Taste, and add more of this or that until it’s perfect.

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It’s best to serve with fresh cut veggies, or toast your own pita chips. To make pita chips, spray a cookie sheet with oil, and place 2-4 tortillas on it. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until crispy but not burnt. Cut into wedges. Enjoy!

Spaghetti squash ‘pasta’ with Turkey Meatballs and Tomato-Chickpea Sauce

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I had bought a spaghetti squash a few days ago, and finally got around to making it. I was not sure what to make with it, so I went with the “spaghetti” theme and made turkey meatballs and a tomato-chickpea sauce. Like real pasta only tons more fiber and quite delicious!

Ingredients:
Spaghetti squash

Sauce:
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, diced
Italian seasonings
1 1/2 cups water/chicken stock

Meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 onion, grated
1/4 cup ketchup
1 egg
1/4 cup blue cheese/parmesan cheese

Step 1: Bake the spaghetti squash face-down for 1 hour at 375 or microwave 10 minutes then bake for 30.

Step 2: Mix all meatball ingredients in a bowl.

Step 3: Cook the chickpeas in a sauce pot for ~5 minutes. Then add the diced tomatoes, water, and seasonings and simmer.

 Step 4: Roll the meatball mix into 1-inch balls and bake on a sprayed cookie sheet for ~10 minutes at 350, or until brown and cooked through. Then add to the simmering sauce.

 

Step 5: When the squash cools, use a fork to pull the strands out.

In a bowl, add the squash, a meatball or two, and pour on some sauce. Enjoy!

Feta and Red Pepper hummus

 

As a spread, appetizer or snack, hummus is filling, satisfying and nutritious. You can eat it with fresh veggies or crackers, or spread it on a sandwich, wrap, burger, gyro and more. I love hummus, and had some chickpeas left over from an earlier curry recipe, so I decided to make a snack.

Most hummus recipes call for tahini, of which I had none, so I created my own recipe. I love garlic hummus, and red pepper hummus, and feta cheese hummus. So I figured, why not combine it all!? Turns out that was an excellent idea, and I hope you think so too.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup garbanzo beans/chickpeas
2 tbsp feta (~1 oz)
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp water
1 clove garlic, diced
2 tbsp red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seed
Dash salt & pepper

Step 1: Blend the first 4 ingredients in the blender, scraping sides with a spoon. Add water until desired thickness.

Step 2: Add all spices, mix well and pour onto serving dish.

Step 3: It’s that easy, now enjoy! I cut up a carrot, a celery stick, a roma tomato and had some wheat thin crackers. Delicious!

Amount Per Serving (1/4 cup)
  Calories 215.4
  Total Fat 15.9 g
  Saturated Fat 3.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 10.5 g
  Cholesterol 6.3 mg
  Sodium 298.6 mg
  Potassium 140.7 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 14.9 g
  Dietary Fiber 2.9 g
  Sugars 0.2 g
  Protein 4.2 g

Moroccan Beef & Couscous

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So this is another one where I had some odds & ends, found a recipe that used most of the ingredients, then changed it to fit what I felt like making. Original recipe is from GoodHousekeeping.
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Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 can chickpeas
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 cup carrot, sliced
2 tbsp dried onion (I would have preferred a whole onion diced, but didn’t have one)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
Cinnamon, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper
1 box wheat couscous
1 cup chicken stock

Step 1: Dice the vegetables and saute in a frying pan over medium heat.

Step 2: The recipe called for the beef to be cooked in the same pan, but if I were to do it again I’d cook the beef separately so I could drain the fat easier. Cook the beef until no longer pink.

 
Step 3: Add 2 tbsp of the cumin and paprika, and 1 tbsp of garlic and cinnamon.
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Step 4: Open and drain the chickpeas, add to the pan and heat through. Stir in the cranberries and cover 2 minutes.

Step 5: Cook the couscous as directed. I put it in a microwave-safe pan with a cover, added the stock and included spice packet and microwaved on high 5 minutes.

Step 6: Fluff the cooked couscous. Put about 1/4 cup in a bowl, and spoon 1/2 cup beef and veggie mix on top. Enjoy!

I was given the advice to add onion (which I definitely will next time) and pineapple to add a bit of sweet, which I totally agree with. I might try adding eggplant too. You could use any vegetable you like, and try different spices too. The beefy, soft veggie, sweetness combo is perfect over soft fluffy couscous.

Desperate times call for creativity

As I’m sure you all know, sometimes in life a situation arises in which you are more financially pinched than normal. Even the best budgeters with decently padded savings accounts can’t anticipate things like home repairs, doctors bills, or car problems. Such is the situation I found myself in when a knocking sound in my car lead to one part needing to be replaced, which then lead to several other parts needing replaced, until the source of all the problems was found and I had to replace that as well!

All said and done, nearly $1000 later, even with parental help (bless their hearts!) my budget belt is tighter than it has ever been before. That, compounded with a soon upcoming move to a new apartment, meant a stock-taking of my fridge/freezer/pantry was in order.

The goal: By August 1st, have used up every edible in my apartment, purchasing as little extra as possible. This means the meals I will be eating will be sure to get interesting!

 

I have actually found that sometimes, the best meals are the ones where you just open a cupboard and say, ‘ok, what can I do with this?’ With a bit of inspiration from Allrecipes.com (one of my favorite recipe websites) I did just that, opened my cupboard and came out with:
1 can chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes
Dried onion flakes
Chili powder
Garlic salt
1 cup white rice

Step 1: I boiled the rice, and meanwhile drained the chickpeas and simmered them with the diced tomatoes for about 10 minutes. I added about 1 tbsp of chili powder and 1 tbsp of the onions. For a bit of extra veggies, I threw in about 1 cup of frozen corn.
Step 2: Once the rice was done, I separated it into 3 individual portions and poured the mixture over the rice. And you know what? It was actually really delicious! Slightly Indian in taste because of the chili powder, the texture of the beans mixed with the tomatoes and sweetness of the corn was very satisfying. And I got 3 meals out of it!
This mission may be easier than I thought. =)