Oh how I love my slow-cooker, especially when it helps make a tedious task easy! And how I love saving money by using dried beans instead of canned. I cook with beans quite often, black beans and chickpeas in particular. Not only are they cheap, they’re also full of protein and fiber. Many of my favorite recipes feature chickpeas. I’ve even substituted chickpeas for meat in several recipes, such as enchiladas, tacos and chicken chili, for a cheaper vegetarian option.
While I appreciate how easy opening a can of chickpeas can be, cooking dried chickpeas can save quite a bit! 1lb of dried chickpeas yields about 4 cans worth of chickpeas. A 1lb bag currently costs $1.37 at my local Walmart, which makes each can’s worth less than 35 cents. Most cans of chickpeas run around 70 cents and up. The savings add up over time!
When I first began cooking my own beans, I followed the instructions on the package. This meant either an overnight soak, or monitoring the beans for the not so “quick soak” method on the stove top. Then, there was the time spent boiling the beans and making sure they didn’t boil over on the stove. I appreciated the money I was saving, but the time spent didn’t always seem worth it.
Then one day I came across this post on budgetbytes.com about making black beans in the slow cooker. Not only did it cut out presoaking, it also eliminated the need checking in to make sure the beans were not boiling over. After a quick rinse, just toss the beans and water in, set it and forget it until the timer goes off!
I’d tried the slow cooker method before, following instructions in an old cookbook I had, but that version required presoaking and a much longer cook time. I was probably more excited than dried beans justify to find such a quick and easy method for cooking dried beans.
I figured the process for cooking dried chickpeas would be pretty similar, but decided to do a quick search for a recipe just in case. I quickly came across Alton Brown’s recipe on Foodnetwork.com that was every bit as easy as the black bean recipe.
Throw 7 cups water, 1 lb. rinsed (no need to presoak) chickpeas and ¼ tsp baking soda in a slow-cooker and cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 to 9 hours. And that’s it!
After cooking I like to let the beans cool. If the recipe that I’ll be using them for calls for a can of un-drained beans, I’ll ladle the beans, liquid and all, into a mason jar and store it in the refrigerator. Most recipes call for drained and rinsed beans however, so I usually just drain the beans in a colander and then measure out 2 cups (about the equivalent to 1 can) of beans into a quart sized freezer bag. I date the bags and toss them in the freezer for future use.
Some of my favorite recipes using chickpeas:
Chana Saag (Simple version the requires ingredients you can find at any grocery store)
Vegan Enchilada Casserole (Not the easiest or cheapest recipe, but so so good. The enchilada sauce is worth the time to make from scratch for this one! For the casserole, I either omit the cheese if I want to keep it vegan, or use real cheese if not since I’m not a fan of vegan cheese. I’ve also subbed brown rice for the pasta and loved how it turned out)
And my favorite black bean recipe:
Black Bean Hummus (I could eat this every day! No tahini needed.)
What are your favorite bean recipes?
Check out the link parties I’m participating in this week here.