Beans & Legumes
Here is a rundown of my favourite beans & legumes that you will find in my recipes.
Lentils, come in so many different varieties. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but there was a time I thought all lentils were red! Growing up, I had only seen the red lentils my mum used to make her delicious lentil soup. To think there was a whole lentil world out there of black, green, brown, yellow ones just waiting for me to explore!
The flavour is pretty much the same for them all. They have a kind of nutty taste, but once you mix them with all the other flavourings, herbs, and vegetables you probably won’t be able to taste them apart. The key difference is their texture. If you like your lentils to have more heart, bite and texture then you will love green, black, and brown lentils. They tend to keep their shape better than the red and yellow lentils that go all soft and mushy when cooked.
The reason I love using lentils in my dishes is because they are like little sponges. They soak up the flavours from everything else you pop in the pot. In Nourish, I throw them into salads, soup, dahls, pasta sauces, and stews. They are so incredibly versatile.
With little flavour compared to their cousins the kidney bean and chickpeas I understand if you have never paid much attention to these boring beans.
What they lack in taste they, unfortunately, don’t make up for in texture either. Mushy, mushy, mushy. Their texture makes them pretty useless in salads or stir-fries. But wait, before you write them off completely they do have one redeeming feature......they are great to puree.
Soft and pureed, you can sneak them into soups, upping the protein content, bulking them out and helping you to balance your blood sugar.
Mung beans are great to throw into casseroles or to have them in salads, soups and stews.
One of the best things with mung beans is that they are easy to sprout, and I would say out of all the beans and pulses, sprouting mung beans is the easiest. They sprout very quickly, and they always seem to work, whereas some of the other ones can be a bit temperamental.
I confess I am totally obsessed with chickpeas. They are great on their own, awesome thrown into salads or stews, but they are also the reason hummus exists. For that reason alone I think they should be crowned the queen the pulses. I love love, love hummus. Even my little girl loves to tuck into a big bowl of hummus armed with a toasted pitta.
I have to admit that I used to rely on the organic store bought hummus, until I discovered how incredibly simple it is to whip up your own. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
Iadd chickpeas to curries, stir-fries, and salads. It’s a chickpea lovefest. They work so well in a variety of dishes because they add bite, crunch and texture without dominating the taste of the dish. I remember at University, everyone was living on bacon rolls and cheese sandwiches while I lived on chickpea salads. Five minutes of prep in the morning, everything thrown into a Tupperware container and I had a delicious chickpea salad waiting for me when lunchtime rolled around!
These are quite soft, but they have an amazing texture. They have a stronger taste than most of the other beans and some people think they taste like mushrooms. They have lovely earthy notes to their flavour.
Again, I love to throw these into my chilli.
Kidney beans have an amazing texture. These are very similar to black beans, but they are more solid and have a better shape when they cook. You can really taste the difference between black beans and the red kidney beans.
Red kidney beans don’t blend as well as the black beans, but they are awesome for adding to curries, chilli’s and stews. They are a great one to start off with if you are not familiar to cooking with beans. After all, most people have tasted kidney beans in chilli.