Covid-19 has redefined what it means to be full of beans. The phrase originated in Medieval times when people noticed that horses became energized after being fed beans. Being “full of beans” came to represent liveliness. I don’t think people are feeling too lively these days but they are filling up on beans.
Dried beans are a great pantry staple. Except for what we grow ourselves, I don’t stockpile beans for more than a matter of months and I buy the most recent harvest. They cook faster and probably are more nutritious. Thats’ why I’ve been such a fan of Rancho Gordo, visiting their booth at the San Francisco Farmers Market whenever I’m in town and now buying them at our local health food store. Being leisurely when cooking dried beans produces the best result. I soak them overnight since they’re actually alive and respond to the boost of a slight ferment, plumping up and thus cooking more uniformly. I also simmer them slowly, which allows them to cook all the way through and not develop a hard shell. Bean cooking liquid is great as stock for soup, so don’t throw it away!
Since I’m always out of time, I usually make a large batch of beans, doubling or tripling what I need, and freeze what I’m not using immediately. That way, on a moment’s notice, you can cook a bunch of chard or spinach or kale or collards or whatever greens you have and make a delicious dinner. Beans are receptive to garlic and all kinds of herbs and spices, so use can use your imagination or whatever is left in your pantry.