Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook (5 page)

BOOK: Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook
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Cooking Beans

Beans and legumes vary in their cooking times and their yields, and a variety of factors, including the age of the beans (which may not be knowable), can affect the cooking time. Generally, though, quick-cooking legumes like red and green lentils are done in about 25 minutes, while longer-cooking beans, like black beans, can take up to 2 hours to cook.

Before cooking, pick through and discard any shriveled beans or stones, which are sometimes found among dried beans. Then rinse the dried beans thoroughly in a colander under cool water.

To reduce their cooking times, most beans should be soaked overnight in cold water; since dried beans can soak up more water than you might think, be sure the water covers the beans by several inches. In the morning, drain off the soaking water and transfer the beans to a pot. Add enough fresh water to cover the beans by at least 3 inches, bring them to a boil, and then lower the heat and cook at a simmer until they are tender.

If you realize you won’t have time to cook beans after all and have already soaked them overnight, don’t throw them out! Just change the water and leave them to soak in the fridge for up to another 2 days, changing the water every 12 hours or so.

If you forget to soak the beans the night before, you can use what is known as the quick-soaking method. Place the dried beans and enough water to cover them in a pot. Bring the beans and water to a boil, turn off the heat, and let them sit for an hour (or even less, if you’re time-constrained—but do try to let them sit for at least 15 minutes). Drain off the water, add enough fresh water to cover them by 3 inches, and bring the pot to a boil again. Cook the beans until they are tender.

Again, it can be difficult to pinpoint cooking times for beans and legumes (versus grains, where cooking times are usually more consistent), but here are some general cooking times and yields for the dried beans used in this cookbook:

Bean
(1 cup dried)
Cooking Time
(minutes)
Yield
(cups)
Adzuki
50–60
3
Anasazi
55–60
2–2½
Black
1½ hours
2–2½
Black–eyed peas
50–60
2
Cannellini
50–60

Chickpeas (Garbanzo)
1½–2 hours
2
Fava, skinned
50–60

Great northern
1½–1¾ hours

Kidney, red
55–65
2–2¼
Lentils, brown
40–50
2–2½
Lentils, green
40–50
2
Lentils, red
20–25
2
Lima
50–60
2
Mung
50–60
2
Navy
55–65

Pinto
1½ hours

Split peas, green
45
2
Cooking Grains

The technique for cooking most grains is generally the same as it is for cooking dried beans: Place the water (or an equal amount of vegetable stock) and the grains in a pot just large enough to hold both (avoid using too large of a pot). Bring it to a boil, covered, and cook, still covered, over medium heat until the water is absorbed. The cooking time and amount of water needed for each grain vary, but here is a general guide for cooking times and yields for the grains used in this cookbook:

Grain
(1 cup dried)
Water
(cups)
Cooking Time
(minutes)
Yield
(cups)
Barley, pearled
3
45–55

Brown rice,
including brown basmati
and wild rice blends
2
45–50

Bulgur
2
15

Millet
3
20
3–3½
Quinoa
2
15

Rice, wild
3
50–60
4
Spelt berries, whole
2–3
40–50

Wheat berries, whole
3
1¾–2 hours
3–3½
Special Chopping Techniques: Matchsticks and Chiffonade

To cut vegetables like carrots or zucchini into matchsticks, slice the vegetable carefully into long, thin strips using a sharp knife or, if you have one, a mandoline. Then cut the strips into 2½-inch lengths. Stack the shorter lengths neatly on top of each other and then cut the stack lengthwise into ¼-inch sticks.

To cut basil or other large leafy herbs or greens into a chiffonade, stack the leaves neatly on top of each other and then, starting with the short side, roll them up tightly. Cut across the roll thinly to achieve ribbons.

Dry or Water Sautéing

Because the recipes in this book do not use processed oils, when a recipe calls for sautéing ingredients—such as onions, garlic, and vegetables—it makes use of a dry- or water-sauté method, where only enough water is added to keep the ingredients being cooked from sticking to the pan as you stir them. Nonstick skillets are more conducive to dry or water sautéing than other skillets, but they are not required.

Peeling Tomatoes

Peeling fresh tomatoes is easy once you get the hang of it. In a small saucepan, bring to a boil enough water to cover your tomatoes. Meanwhile, wash the tomatoes, and then with a sharp knife score (make shallow cuts in) each tomato at the stem end with an “X.”

When the water boils, carefully drop the tomatoes into the boiling water, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for no more than one minute. You may begin to see the flaps of skin peel back from the scoring. But even if you don’t, remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon after no more than one minute, plunge them in ice-cold water, and then when they are sufficiently cooled, peel each tomato with a sharp knife.

Some skins may slip right off, but if you find it difficult to remove the skin from a tomato, return that tomato to the simmering water, and boil it for another 30 seconds or so.

Preparing Winter Squash

To prepare winter squash, lay the squash on its side and cut a thin piece off of the bottom of the squash. This allows you to stand the squash up on its end and keep it stable while you peel the sides. Remove the skin using either a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler. Once you have peeled the squash, halve it vertically (through the blossom and stem ends), scoop out the seeds with a spoon, lay the halves flat on a cutting surface, and cut them lengthwise into long strips. Finally, cut those strips into cubes.

Roasting Peppers

To roast peppers on a gas stovetop, hold the whole pepper over an open flame and roast, turning frequently, until the pepper is black all over. You can either hold it by the stem, if it is strong and sturdy enough, or use heatproof tongs; either way, use caution. To roast peppers in an
oven, put washed peppers in a cast-iron skillet or roasting pan, and roast them for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 400°F. Remove the pan from the oven, put the peppers into a plastic bag or heat-proof container with a lid, and let them sweat until cooled. When the peppers are cool, peel off the charred or blackened skin; the degree to which it is charred will depend on the roasting method and the extent to which the peppers have been roasted. Perfectly roasted peppers will retain their body but will be softened throughout, and the skin will slip right off.

Salt and Pepper

Recipes that call for salt and/or pepper nearly all specify “to taste” rather than give precise quantities. Many people prefer to cook with little to no salt, while others prefer not to grind on copious amounts of pepper. We are all encouraged to limit our salt consumption—the recommended daily sodium intake is 1,500 milligrams, equal to less than a teaspoon—so go light on the salt. When you do use salt, I recommend sea salt or kosher salt, which, unlike table salt, contain no chemicals such as silicon dioxide, dextrose, and aluminum silicate and retain the salt’s natural minerals. As for pepper, if you’re a fan of it, invest in a good grinder if you don’t already have one and buy whole peppercorns (try to see if you can find them in bulk bins, where they are typically much less expensive than where they are sold in jars in the spice aisle).

About Sulfites and Sulfur Dioxide

Some recipes call for unsulfured molasses and dried fruit, which means foods that have not been treated with sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide functions as a preservative and bleaching agent and can cause allergic reactions in many people, especially people with asthma.

Time-Saving Tips

Read the entire recipe before embarking on it to make sure that you have all the necessary ingredients and that you’re prepared to make any additional recipes that may be called for (such as a recipe of
No-Cheese Sauce
that needs to be prepared before you can make
Curried Potato Soup with Corn and Red Pepper
). It’s always a good idea to prep vegetables while water is coming to a boil, a sauce is simmering, or the oven is preheating. Depending on the recipe, you may want to do
all
of your prep before embarking on the cooking; stir-fries especially benefit from being fully prepped, with all ingredients in easy reach of the stove, before the actual cooking begins.

If you find yourself frequently returning to recipes that use beans (or even cooked brown rice, for example), you may also find it a time-saver to make a large batch of beans and keep recipe-size portions in the freezer. They’ll keep for up to several months in the freezer, and that way, you get all the health and savings benefits of
making your own beans
without spending hours ahead of time soaking and cooking them.

Using Fresh and Dried Herbs

All the herbs used in the recipes in the book are presumed to be fresh, unless they are specified otherwise. While it’s certainly preferable to use fresh herbs whenever possible, sometimes the herbs called for are not in season, or you just can’t find them easily in your
local store. If you need to substitute dried herbs, that’s fine, but remember that dried herbs are more potent than fresh herbs, so you’ll need less for the recipe. Dried herbs will begin to lose their potency about six months after their packaging has been opened, and while they’re still usable, they won’t have the same amount of flavor as those from a freshly opened package. When substituting dried herbs for fresh, the general conversion is 1 part dried to 3 parts fresh. Here are some approximate conversions for the common measurements used in this book:

Fresh
Dried
¼ cup
1½ tablespoons
1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon
1½ teaspoons
½ teaspoon
1 teaspoon
¼ teaspoon
½ teaspoon
1 pinch
Toasting Nuts

The most fail-safe way to toast raw nuts is to place them on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Pine nuts will take just 5 minutes to toast, whereas almonds will take about 10 minutes. Other larger nuts can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Do not leave the nuts unattended; they can go from perfectly toasted to irretrievably burnt in a matter of a minute or two. A good rule of thumb is, the moment you can smell them, they’re done (or were done two minutes earlier). If toasted nuts stayed in the oven a few minutes too long, rather than letting them cool on the baking sheet, you can help forestall any further cooking by transferring them to a heat-proof dish the moment you remove them from the oven and letting them sit at room temperature.

Toasting Seeds and Spices

To toast whole seeds and spices, place them in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly to keep them from burning. The seeds are done when they become fragrant and start to turn darker, or in the case of some seeds, including sesame, start to pop. Most seeds will take no more than a few minutes to toast, so be sure not to leave them unattended.

Zesting and Juicing Citrus

Fresh lemon or lime juice and zest appear often in the recipes in this book—a touch of citrus juice and/or zest brings a bright, fresh zing to foods in a way no other ingredient quite can. Citrus juicers and reamers come in a wide variety of shapes and types, starting at the bottom of the spectrum with very simple wooden reamers. Mexican squeezers, a small step up, are more widely available than others and come in three basic sizes, each painted a bright color: yellow for lemons, green for limes, and orange for oranges. At the high end of the spectrum are electric juicers with varying features. For the amounts called
for in the recipes in this book, one Mexican squeezer or a simple wooden citrus reamer is all you really need.

BOOK: Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook
13.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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