It's hard to find a more healthful (or less expensive) food than the soybean. This versatile legume — which can be prepared in a multitude of ways, from soymilk to "ice bean" desserts to fermented tempeh — is low in starch and devoid of cholesterol while being high in protein, minerals, vitamins and lecithin. The following four soybean recipes (which have been kitchen-tested in my home by three hungry men and rated excellent) should help you on your way to discovering a nutritious, tasty, low-meat diet.
Although the fastest way to cook soybeans (or any other dried bean) is in a pressure cooker — unsoaked soybeans will take about 40 minutes at 15 pounds of pressure — I generally prefer to soak the beans overnight and simmer them the next evening. I usually cook one or two pounds of soybeans each week, leaving half of them whole and grinding up the rest in my food mill. In this way, a single cooking gives me the basis for a week's meals with a minimum of effort. I also save and store the nutritious cooking water for later use in soups, breads and other dishes.
To prepare your beans for cooking, sort through them and discard any discolored kernels, then rinse them. Presoak the beans by adding enough water to a pound of soybeans so that they're covered with 2 inches of liquid, and store them in the refrigerator overnight (the beans will nearly triple in size, so use a big pot).
After the legumes have soaked, skim off the film that will have formed, add a teaspoon of salt (and more water, if necessary), and bring the pot to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let the beans simmer until they're tender, a process that usually takes about three hours. When properly cooked, the soybeans should squish easily, but if they're too tender, they'll form a paste when you grind them up.
To make this high-protein baked bean dish, combine the beans with the sauce ingredients and bake, covered, in a loaf pan in a 300-degrees-Fahrenheit oven for 2 to 3 hours. (For a sweeter, less spicy sauce, you might want to omit the chili powder and increase the sugar to ¼ cup.)
Combine the main ingredients in the order given and place the mixture in a loaf pan. Drizzle the topping over the loaf and bake it in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until firm.
Mix together the first six ingredients and shape the resulting dough into 15 to 20 balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Coat the balls with more wheat germ and then fry them in butter or margarine until they're lightly browned, turning them frequently as they cook. Then drop the beanballs into your favorite spaghetti sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over a bed of steaming spaghetti.
In a large skillet, sauté the cabbage in the oil until it wilts, then add the soy sauce, sugar and half of the salt. Cook this mixture, covered, for another 15 minutes. While that simmers, combine the soybeans, flour, egg, pepper and remaining salt, then gradually stir in the milk. Alternate layers of cabbage and bean mixture, beginning and ending with the cabbage, in a greased two-quart baking dish. Dot the casserole with butter or margarine, and bake it in a 350-degree oven for about an hour.
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