This year is the International Year of the Pulses. What is the first thing that comes to your mind? Soups? Little beany things? Wind (hmmm...)?
Technically speaking, pulses are harvested solely for dry grain, such as lentils. Thereby excluding crops harvested green for food, which are classified as vegetable crops, as well as those crops used mainly for oil extraction and leguminous crops that are used exclusively for sowing purposes (based on the definition of “pulses and derived products” of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).(1)
In Australia grain legumes are generally referred to as 'pulses'. (2) Pulses turns out to be a very important crop. It plays a crucial role in healthy diets, sustainable food production, soil quality and above all food security in a world wide sense. These humble beans are packed full of plant-based protein and amino acid, soluble dietary fibre, along with other nutrients including calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, folate, iron, riboflavin and zinc.
Now exactly how to incorporate them in your favourite recipes?
1) Meat replacer
Try replace 1/3 of the meat with one can of red kidney beans (or 1 cup of cooked red kidney beans) in the bolognese sauce. Otherwise, the same can be used for homemade hamburger patties. Replace some of the minced meat and bread crumb with canned black bean as a meat replacer and a binder, . You can buy less minced meat and at the same time, get more fibre in. Perfect.
2) Add to stew as a thickener
Add 1/2 cup of red lentil to any stew. It will take around 15 minutes or so to cook and break apart. No one will even notice they are there.
3) As a dip
The classic hummus is essentially a chickpea puree with sesame paste, and flavoured with garlic, lemon juice, salt and cumin. Great on hummus, as a dip or even as a spread.
4) Power punch salad - Meat free lunch
A variety of salad vegetables, with grated beetroot, shredded purple cabbage and a good amount (at least 1/2 cup) of cooked chickpeas or edamame topped with hummus, olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or my personal favourite pomegranate molasses) makesa wonderful meat free salad. You will feel full without the heavy feeling.
This year is the International Year of Pulses. Why not give pulses a go? For more information, see the FAO wesite. http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/en/