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Tales of the Testers: Pressured and Bean Happy

I’m a huge fan of my pressure cooker, and I just found another great way to use it: Hands down, without a doubt, the pressure cooker produces the creamiest cannellini beans, the tenderest chickpeas, the most delicious black beans I've ever made.

Let the beans soak overnight in the fridge, then cook them for a mere 6 to 12 minutes under high pressure (your cooker should come with a time guide). Give them a nice rest while the pressure releases. You’ll be a believer too, I promise.

A chickpea dish can be made fast and more healthful when you cook the chickpeas in a pressure cooker. (James. M. Thresher for The Washington Post)

Why bother, you ask? Aren’t canned beans convenient? That’s what I thought until I noticed how high in sodium they were. I tried cooking the beans on the stove, and they were fine. But I was looking for fabulous. Then I got the idea from a Whole Foods Market pamphlet my dad sent me. It was a guide to cooking beans and grains. It listed the times for pressure cooking and didn't even offer a stovetop/saucepan option.

Now I’m hooked. I’m looking for reasons to throw beans into salads, soups and side dishes. Don’t try it with the old-fashioned pressure, cookers though; new versions take most of the stress out of this kind of cooking. I have a Kuhn Rikon Duromatic 7L, but I think the 3.5-quart model would be perfect for bean applications.

Do you already have a pressure cooker? If so, use it to try my Shrimp, White Bean and Radish Salad or my Cumin-Scented Chickpeas With Spinach and Basmati Rice.
-- Stephanie Witt Sedgwick

By The Food Section  |  June 9, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Tales of the Testers  | Tags: Stephanie Witt Sedgwick  
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Someday, I hope to have enough kitchen storage to justify a pressure cooker for this exact reason (and a waffle iron, and a crock pot, and a food mill, and a grill pan...but I digress). For now, I guess I'll just have to be jealous.

Posted by: lizlemon | June 9, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse


I have very little kitchen storage, but I make sure to have room for my pc. I make chicken stock in an hour, beans from dried to cooked in an hour, to die for fresh legumes in 1 minute, chicken dinner in 10-15 minutes, etc. Rice or pasta can cook in the cooker along with the rest of a meal. I use it multiple times a week.

And I use a jiggle top pc with a locking lid. Sometimes I put some oil in with the beans to keep things safe. Sometimes not. I have never had a problem. I sometimes presoak, but Lorna Sass has a chart in "Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure" that shows times for presoaked and unsoaked, so I don't sweat it if I didn't presoak (but I have learned to cook in my pc for the longer of the range of times for best results). My 7 yo actually complimented me on my bean recipe the other day, which I think is high praise.

Posted by: janedoe5 | June 9, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

For those who want a pressure cooker and a slow cooker and even a rice cooker, but don't have much storage space, consider the Fagor 3-in-1 electric multicooker. It does all three things and it does them well. It also browns and keeps warm. Amazon sells them and they're only about $120. I'm really enjoying mine. I had never had a pressure cooker before and was honestly scared of them, but this one has so many safety features that I'm not scared at all (although the first time I used it I did watch it from across the room). I like being able to just set the cooking time and forget about it until it beeps that it's done. Then for quick release you just open the pressure valve, or leave it closed for natural release. And I agree with Stephanie that beans from the pressure cooker are so much better than canned. Not mushy or salty at all!

Posted by: AmyH3 | June 9, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Let me count the other ways I love my pressure cooker-best corned beef ever, veal breast tender and defatted in 1/2 hour, all-in-one-pot-meal in under 60 minutes....I'm glad I'm not alone.

-Stephanie Witt Sedgwick

Posted by: thesedgwicks | June 9, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Hmm...sounds like I may need to make room on top of the fridge after all and add this one to my wish list! I'm vegan, so I don't see any veal breast in the offing, but the bean/grain possibilities have me very excited. Thanks for the multicooker recommendation, AmyH3...sounds like that might be a perfect fit.

Posted by: lizlemon | June 9, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

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