Pretty regularly, Michael and I usually have some sort of Mexican-inspired meal, whether it's quesadillas or tacos or the like. I like to incorporate black beans, but what usually would happen is that I'd open up a can and only use half of it (since there are only two of us), and then try to come up with creative ways to use the rest of the can or overdose on tacos as leftovers.
So a couple months ago, I finally bought a bag of dried beans to experiment with using them instead of the canned variety. (It was about two years ago that I first heard about the joys of cooking with dried beans. Of course, being slow and hesitant to adopt new things, it took me that long to finally try it out.)
The idea is that you take the dried beans, put them in a bowl of water and let them soak for 4 to 8 hours. Then, you let them simmer on the stove for one to two hours. While it is a bit time consuming (and definitely calls for planning your meals out at least a few hours ahead of time), it really is pretty easy and uninvolved, kind of like cooking with a crockpot.
And I have to say, I'm hooked. I love that you can measure out the exact amount you need and not have any wasted or sitting in a tupperware in the fridge. It's also more cost-effective to use dried beans; a small bag costs about a dollar and equals about 3 cans worth of beans. I started off with black beans but recently picked up some dried garbanzo beans as well, because while we don't use them much, I do have some recipes I'd like to try out with them.
I still keep a jar of canned beans in the pantry, for those off-the-cuff, ready-at-a-moment's-notice times when you can't wait for the beans to leisurely soak and cook. And I've also recently started to cook a larger batch of beans and freeze them so that I don't have to go through the whole day-long process if time doesn't allow. So far it's been working quite well and I'd highly recommend it. Try it next time you make our homemade black bean burgers!
Have you tried cooking with dried beans? Do you have any favorite bean recipes you'd like to share?