Sprouting dried beans increases the enzyme content for better digestibility and nutrition. Use slightly sprouted navy beans in traditional dried bean recipes, or keep soaking the beans until they turn into the crispy, long strands known as bean sprouts. To create your own bean sprouts or slightly sprouted beans, soak about 1 cup of navy beans in a jar filled with water and topped with a mesh or cheesecloth top, for air circulation. Change the water twice daily. Navy beans will sprout a tail after about three days. For actual sprouts, keep rinsing the beans and changing the water until they reach the length you desire.
The Tough Crowd
While mung, alfalfa, radish and lentil sprouts are prized for their usefulness in fresh dishes, sprouts from hard-shelled beans yield tougher sprouts. So navy, pinto and kidney bean sprouts are less suitable for fresh salads and as a lettuce-like sandwich filler. Instead, feature navy bean sprouts in cooked dishes.
Because navy bean sprouts are on the tough side, precook them before tossing them into stir-fries and other cooked dishes. Steam the bean sprouts by placing them in a steamer basket or metal colander. Lower the basket into a larger saucepan into which you've added water to a depth of about 2 inches and brought to a boil. Cover the saucepan and steam the navy bean sprouts for three minutes. When done, they will be tender and plumper than they are in raw form.
Sprout a Dinner
Once you've sprouted and steamed your navy beans, use them in any cooked recipe that calls for bean sprouts. One exception to this rule is if the recipe calls for simmering or boiling the sprouts by themselves as a side dish. In that case, skip the steaming and simply cook the navy bean sprouts until they are tender, then toss with a dressing, such as a drizzle of sesame oil and a dusting of sesame seeds. Use chilled, steamed navy bean sprouts in place of raw mung or alfalfa sprouts in recipes that call for a topping of fresh sprouts. Steamed navy bean sprouts can also replace tender raw sprouts in stir-fries and baked dishes.
Use slightly sprouted navy beans as you would use navy beans that have only soaked overnight. Allow the navy beans to sprout for two to three days, then cook them as you would traditional soaked navy beans, in dishes such as baked beans or veggie burgers. Alternatively, use them instead of garbanzo beans in hummus by simmering them for a few hours until they are tender. Put them in a food processor with tahini, a sesame paste that is a traditional hummus ingredient. Use about 12 parts cooked sprouted navy beans to 1 part tahini.