I cooked both lentils and black eyed peas for the first time this week and both came out mealy. I soaked both and then simmered. Is there something I'm doing wrong? I'm about to just give up on legumes, but thought I should ask around first.
What exactly do you mean by mealy? Cooked dried beans become soft and while I would call it creamy rather than mealy I am not sure how to distinguish the difference in those two adjectives. The longer you cook them the softer they get as they break down. Lentils should cook in 45 minutes or less and usually do not need to be pre-soaked. They are fairly inexpensive so if you want to try and eat legumes you might get some more and read some recipes - there is all kinds of advice about when to add salt or acid (I.e tomatoes) and some people advocate adding baking soda to make them softer. Best wishes.
To me, the difference between mealy and creamy is in some moisture. But I guess that's what I'm wondering, am I cooking them wrong or do I not like them?
The lentil package advised pre-soaking, so that's why I did. Maybe I should try not soaking but cooking longer.
Could you have overcooked them? I cook legumes a lot (though I haven't cooked black-eyed peas). It also depends on how old they were (impossible to determine, I know). I never pre-soak lentils.
I would suggest two tests to see if you are actually just averse to the general texture.
1. Try cooking any recipe where a ham hock is involved. Idealy slow cook lentils or small beans with a hock and not much else, halve an onion and smash a couple garlic cloves. Since the taste will be all pork-salt-y-ness you can judge the texture seperately.
2. Get high quality legumes. Try one/some of the Rancho Gordo products, they are bringing back some older and very specific varieties that are so tasty. And since they are so passionate about their product there's a TON of info about preparing them and the best preparation for the different kinds: https://www.ranchogordo.com/
Oh! And I forgot to add no boiling. I know simmering takes longer, but similar to some tough cuts of beef if you cook the beans too fast they seize up and wont hold onto their own potlikker.
Lentils don't require pre-soaking. Also, when you cook legumes, cook them at a slow simmer and check them once in a while for texture. Green or brown lentils should be done in 45 minutes or less. And don't add salt to beans until the last few minutes of cooking.