Spilling the Beans

Beans are a great food. Gluten-free, full of protein, cheap and super-healthy, all they need is a good recipe to make them into a hearty meal. Here, a few bean-based dishes we’ve cooked up lately plus some helpful tips.

How to Cook Beans

Cooking beans


1 cup of dry beans should be cooked in about 3 cups of water.

1 cup of dry beans yields about 2-3 cups cooked.

If beans require soaking, do so in cold water for 4-12 hours (generally, the bigger the bean the longer the soak time).

If you don’t have time to soak, cover beans with 2 inches of water and boil for 2 minutes.



Rinse and sort: Whether you’re using dried or canned beans, rinsing the beans before you cook or use them is a good idea. If you’re using dried beans, be sure to sift through to make sure any shriveled beans or small stones are removed.


Boil, then simmer: Always drop beans into boiling water, then immediately bring down to a simmer.


Cook with kombu: A staple in macrobiotic cooking and used to add flavor to broths in Japanese cooking, kombu (sold in dried strips at health food stores or Asian supermarkets) contains an enzyme that can help us digest beans. Also, adding a drop of vinegar or lemon to beans once they’re cooked can help with digestion (it also adds flavor).


Cook clean: Wait to add your salt or acid (vinegar or lemon) until after the beans are cooked. Adding to the water while they’re cooking can delay the process.


BPA-free: If you’re using canned, try to find cans that are BPA-free. Eden Organic is a great go-to option and they prepare their beans with kombu.

Cooking times for beans in this week’s recipes:


Adzuki Beans


50 minutes

Black beans


1.5 hours

Black-eyed peas


1 hour

Cannellini beans


1.5 hours



1.5 – 2 hours

Great Northern


1.5 – 2 hours



25-30 minutes

Roasted Chickpeas with Romanesco, Peppers + Anchovies

Roasted Chickpeas with Romanesco, Peppers & Anchovies

We tried the recipe with cauliflower in the test kitchen and again with romanesco for the shoot. Both work just as well.

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Super-Healthy Kosheri


One of our favorite recipes from It’s All Good. Lentils and brown rice are really good protein for vegetarian/vegans.

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Cannellini Bean + Quinoa Burgers

Cannellini Bean & Quinoa Burgers

Served stacked or on a platter, these vegan and gluten-free burgers are easier to make than they look.

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Three Bean Salad with Sautéed Chard

Three Bean Salad with Sautéed Chard

Adding the lightly wilted fall chard makes all the difference. This is a great dish to take to work for a healthy room temperature lunch.

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Slow-Braised Green Beans

Slow-Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes

Though we love the simply blanched, French-style green bean preparation, slow-braising them with tomatoes makes for an incredibly tasty and warming preparation.

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Black Bean + Roasted Butternut Squash Chili

Black Bean & Roasted Butternut Squash Chili

We roast the squash separately for this spiced chili as the rich flavor of the roasted butternut is too good to skip. You can save time by throwing the squash in to boil with the dry beans.

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Basic Lentil Soup

Basic Lentil Soup

Lentil soup has many lives—some with curry, some smooth, some chunky… This is our basic, everyday recipe—simple to prepare and a delicious kitchen staple. It also freezes well.

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Thanks to MARCH in San Francisco for letting us shoot on their beautiful kitchenware in their store.

Photography by Angie Silvy.

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