Friday, February 19, 2016

Great Northern Beans with Broccolini and Wheatberries (No Added Fat)

Yesterday, I picked up some wheatberries and, on sale, some nice looking broccolini. I thought that I'd try cooking them together and, for all the wonderful nutrition of beans, including beans.

Wheatberries cook in a 1 part berries to 3 parts water over 25-30 minutes. I wanted to use navy beans which are small and cook quickly (25-30m unsoaked and 5m less if soaked, cooked with just enough water to cover), but didn't have them. Instead, I used Great Northern beans, which are cooked similarly but use a little more water (water to just cover plus 1/2") and cook over 30m unsoaked for 25m soaked.

By the way, I've followed traditional advice, such as by the US Dry Bean council, to not add salt till the end of cooking, to avoid toughening of skins. (I didn't realize that acids are also recommended to be added afterwards; I've used tomato and tomato sauce, and have had good results.)  However, I've seen some suggest that soaking in salt water and then adding just a pinch of salt when cooking leads to more consistently textured beans and stronger flavor. I might try this in the future. Here is what I did.

  • 1 1/2 cups Great Northern beans
  • 3/4 cup (i.e., half the bean quantity)  wheatberries
  • 3 times as much water as wheatberries plus a little more - I used 2 1/2 cups
  • 3 cloves garlic finely (1/8") minced
  • (optional) 1/2 t fennel seed
  • (optional) 1/8 t turmeric
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • Broccolini bunch, 3/4" or so of ends removed, then whole bunch cut into 1" lengths including stems and florets (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cups onion cut into 3/8" cubes (maybe 1/2 of a small-medium onion)
  • 1t lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt; I used a combination of sea salt and some lavender-salt
  1. I put the beans, wheatberries, water, garlic, fennel seed, turmeric, and bouillon cube into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 30m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure. I opened the pot and tried the beans and wheatberries - they were already good! The beans were cooked just fine, but I wouldn't mind it if they were just a tad softer.
  3. I added the broccolini, onion, lemon juice, and salt, then served.
We surprisingly were low on salad ingredients, but we had some bean sprouts. I served them, as well as some carrot.

I was impressed with this combination! We all enjoyed the meal. The broccolini was good still fresh and just slightly wilted by being mixed in with the hot beans and wheatberries. The fennel seed added a nice flavor.

Ideas for the future

I need to continue to explore wheatberries cooked with beans and other vegetables - this is a winning combination for taste, texture, and, of course, nutrition. Some lime zest might be nice. I might cook for 32-35 minutes next time, and maybe garnish with some fresh fennel. I need to add fennel seeds to a regular rotation in my cooking. 

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