Beautiful Food Is Fine. Flavorful Food is Gorgeous.
I have been saying for years that food doesn’t need to look good to taste good. But maybe now I believe that with food, the beauty is way more in the flavor than in the appearance, because to me, this modest-looking dish is gorgeous.
Kerri and I have been saying for what seems like forever that if you cook a batch of beans and a batch of (whole) grains once a week (or so), you’ll always have them on hand when you want them. Since both are integral parts of whole-food, mostly plant-based diets (and their absence is the problem with “diets” like keto and some forms of paleo), this just makes sense in all kinds of ways.
Anyway. I do this. I cook beans and grains whenever I run out, usually around half a pound at a time, which makes enough for several one- or two-person meals, pretty much how I cook now. I could cook more, but for variety’s sake I’d rather cook more often. And since I mostly use a pressure cooker for these, the time spent is not that onerous - well under an hour, start-to-finish. (Below, I’ve included my foolproof, non-pressure-cooker recipes for a batch of beans and grains, so you can always have them on hand.)
This dish is a combination of three cooked-in-advance elements: small lima beans (which came from Bob’s Red Mill, for those of you keeping score at home), cooked with escarole, garlic, and oil; farro (from Gustiamo), cooked with nothing but salt and water; and arrabbiata sauce, made with olive oil, tomatoes from my freezer, garlic, and long Korean red chiles; I’d had that over pasta a couple of nights ago, and there was about a half-cup left.
That’s kind of all you need to know. Heated the farro in a bowl in the microwave, poured the tomato sauce into the beans, heated that in another bowl, then spooned the one on top of the other. Best lunch I’ve had since at least yesterday.
The easiest way to cook beans because most of the time they aren’t cooking at all; they’re soaking. Incredibly, if you start a pot of dried beans from scratch without soaking and start a pot with this method, both will be ready at about the same time, with no difference in taste or texture. What changes is that you don’t have to check as much or add water as often if you soak them. If you’re cooking lentils or split peas—which take no more than 30 minutes to get tender—always follow the no-soak variation.
This process will allow you to cook almost any grain perfectly every time. (The most notable exceptions are bulgur, white or whole wheat couscous, and wild rice.) You really don't even have to measure anything. I'm providing a recipe for the method, but you don't need it. Put the grains in a pot with water and cook them until they're done the way you like them. Period.
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.