HOW TO: COOK BEANS + Smokey Lunch Beans with Sage

Smokey Lunch Beans w/ Sage | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Smokey Lunch Beans with Sage


  • 1 Tbsp ghee or olive oil
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 bacon rasher chopped [optional]
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 cups cooked or canned cannelini beans
  • 1 cup tomato passata [puree]
  • Cracked pepper


  • Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy-based skillet over a moderate heat. Add the onion and bacon and saute for 5 minutes. Add the sage leaves, paprika and garlic, sauteing briefly to release the flavours. Add the beans and tomato passata. Cook for 5 minutes until bubbling. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with winter greens and half an avocado. So simple and delicious, enjoy!

How to Cook Dried Beans [legumes]

Beans and legumes are super nutrient-dense foods, however, because of their complex starches and high fibre content, legumes can be hard to digest if not prepared correctly. Purchasing pre-cooked canned beans is another option but they are expensive compared to cooking your own dried beans and are often high in salt. Always drain canned beans in a sieve and rinse thoroughly with cold water before use to remove excess salt.

How to cook legumes:

  1. Soak legumes overnight in 3-4 times the water. Split red lentils are the exception needing only a rinse in a sieve (however, 1-2 hours soaking will reduce gassiness). When soaking large legumes these can be soaked for 24 hours replacing the water several times. The longer the soaking the easier to digest.
  2. Drain in a colander, discarding the soaking water (or use for watering house plants), and rinse well in cold water.
  3. Cover legumes again with 2-3 times the water or homemade stock. Rapidly boil uncovered for the first 10 minutes then lower heat and simmer until soft. Adding extra water if needed. *At this stage you can pour in a slow cooker and cook all day or overnight. Or use a thermal bag like the one I used in the photos leaving overnight or at least 4 hours.
  4. When ready to cook add 1 tsp ground cumin, half a tomato, a bay leaf, or a piece of seaweed to the cooking legumes to soften the skins and speed cooking.
  5. Salt will toughen the skin so only add at the very end of cooking to taste.
  6. Prepare more legumes than needed and freeze (with the cooking liquid) into portioned containers for up to 6 months. Cooked legumes will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.

Cooking Methods: Boiling

Cooking time depends on type and age of the legume. Buy legumes from bulk bins and stores that have a quick turn over. Dried legumes should be used within 6 months of purchase, the older the legume the longer it will take to cook and in some cases may not cook at all.

Split red lentils – 15-20 minutes

Brown lentils/ split peas – 30 – 40 minutes

Kidney beans – 45-60 minutes

Chickpeas – 1 1/2 – 2 hours

Pressure Cooker

We like to make a large batch of beans at once and freeze them into individual containers to simply thaw as needed and add to meals or make hummus. Using a pressure cooker greatly reduces the cooking time. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and recommended cooking times as pressure cookers and settings can vary.

The recipe I share here today is a true labour of love. You see, last summer I had these grand plans to grow a large harvest of drying beans that we could use over the winter. I didn’t exactly think I would grow enough to last the winter but I hoped to at least make more than one meal. Miles from the Garden Organics seedling stall at the Nelson Farmers Market gave me two small bags of beans, including verbal directions [as he does so well] about the height they would grow and how to space them. I was quite excited, and immediately secured a space in the garden. We built a very sturdy 2 meter high bean tower with stings spaced just right. I sowed 2 beans per hole just in case one didn’t survive. Kept them weed free, watered and fed. They grew well, right to the top of the 2 metre tower and had beautiful plump bean pods which we left on the climbing strings to dry in the late summer sun. The green stalks turned brown and they were ready to harvest, I just had to find a moment to get out there and bring them inside.

Sadly, this story does not have a happy ending. Before I found that chance to harvest my dried beans we were hit with a terrible storm. You may recall I posted a photo of our crumpled tunnel house on Instagram. Our little valley was one of the worst hit in the region, with a hillside of large pines near our house flattened and we lost several trees on our property. A friends trampoline that was securely anchored to the ground was picked up and thrown about 20 metres over several high fences and dumped on the neighbours boat. That is the severity of the storm. So other than a small bowlful of tough wee bean pods I lost most of my harvest to be. I am sure you can understand my devastation, all that work and love to be lost in a single afternoon of bad luck weather.

I stowed my little pods away in a dry spot, not sure if I really wanted to eat them. Maybe I would save them for next summer and try again. However I still have some beans left from the little bags Miles gave me so it wasn’t really necessary to save them. After all I had grown them so we could eat our own homegrown dried beans. So today I share with you the recipe I choose to make with my scant cup of dried beans grown with love.

Smokey Lunch Beans w/ Sage | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Smokey Lunch Beans w/ Sage | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Smokey Lunch Beans w/ Sage | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Insulated Box or Bag [as pictured]

Insulated boxes or the ‘hay box’ method of cooking has been around for a very long time. It is are a very energy-efficient way to cook dried beans which generally require a long cooking time. I was given a Heylo insulated bag to try out, handmade locally by Tish who sells them at the Nelson Market and online [You can find out more HERE]. It is very simple to use for cooking beans – prepare beans as above, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, secure a lid and snuggle into the insulated bag. Leave for 4-6 hours or overnight. You can also use a chilly bin with towels or blankets stuffed around the saucepan [this is very similar to the original hay box method]. I would love to know if you have used this method before or if you try it, please comment below and share your stories.

Smokey Lunch Beans w/ Sage | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN


Join the Conversation

  1. Anna Wilde says:

    Hi Nic. My Dutch family used a ‘hoi-kisten’ (spelling definitely wrong… but roughly translated as hay-case), during the war to cook things including beans. They got a bit hungry and ate from a huge sack of beans my Dad said. And it was absolutely necessary to save fuel. Anna

    1. Cool Anna, yes they would have been very useful during the war and times of limited fuel.

    2. The correct spelling is “hooikist” 🙂 It is very useful indeed!

  2. Hi Nicola, Great to see your recipe using a Heylo bag. Looks great in the red pot. Cooking with heat retention is the answer especially with pulses. Bean recipe sounds so good too. Sorry about your crop !

    1. HI Tish, I am glad you came across this post, I was meaning to send the link to you today but never quite found the chance to head to the computer! It is also great for making yogurt and have cooked rice and pasta too. Thanks again 🙂

  3. On different subject but while i am ready this – I have made a heap of ghee at school for our French Toast and Oaty Pancakes. It’s great. What a lovely flavour.

    1. Yes ghee is the best for cooking French toast and pancakes. Doesn’t burn and tastes so good!

  4. So sad to loose your crop like that!
    As vegetarians we eat legumes a lot but I never manage to grow more than for a couple of meals. Thank you for reminding me about the energy- efficient cooking methods! I used to cook beans this way, sometimes just wrapping the pan in blankets for insulation, but have forgotten about it lately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Nicola Galloway Homegrown Kitchen © Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.
error: Content is under copyright. Cannot be used without permission.