Beans and lentils

Beans and lentils

By
Tony Chiodo
Contains
8 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740668873
Photographer
Chris Chen

Beans and lentils are a great addition to everyday feasting as they’re nourishing, versatile and flavoursome. You’ve eaten them, I bet, in your favourite hummus, as dahl at your local Indian restaurant, or maybe refried in a cheesy Mexican taco.

These humble foods have nourished millions with their rich and substantial texture and subtle flavours. They are the ‘meat’ of any vegetarian meal, providing satisfaction to the body and abundant goodness, without the added fat.

Beans and lentils provide a slow release of energy and, when combined with grains, create a complete protein meal. They are high in fibre and recommended as part of a balanced diet the world over. If that wasn’t enough to get you inspired, beans and lentils are also incredibly cheap and easy to prepare.

You can find all sorts of colourful and exotic beans to match your mood in Middle Eastern stores, Italian grocers, Asian grocers and health food shops.

When it comes to cooking, beans and lentils fall into two categories: those that need soaking and those that don’t.

Some examples of the ‘no need to soak’ varieties include red lentils, brown lentils, split green peas and mung beans. These ready-to-cook varieties, which are, incidentally, lower in fat than the soaking varieties, make quick and easy soups, dips and loafs.

Beans and lentils that require soaking before cooking include lima beans, borlotti beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans, adzuki beans, black beans and pinto beans. The soaking varieties tend to be larger than no-soak beans and lentils and make for a wholesome, hearty meal.

To prepare cooking with beans and lentils that require soaking, first start by sifting through and removing any small stones. Rinse then soak them and watch any skins and twigs rise to the top; discard them.

Soak the beans with a 3 cm piece of kombu for a minimum of six to eight hours before you cook them. Adding seaweed to soaking beans helps to soften them and release any unwanted gas, which makes eating beans uncomfortable. Kombu also helps mineralise the bean dish by adding calcium, iron and other trace elements. After this soaking period your beans will be ready to use in your recipe.

If you’ve forgotten to soak your beans, or you just don’t have the time, you can try the quick cook method: cover your beans with cold water, bring them to a rapid boil over high heat then take off the heat and leave, covered, for about 2 hours before using them.

When you’re ready to begin cooking the beans, always discard the soaking water and add clean, fresh water. Boil the beans over high heat and remove any scum that rises to the surface with a ladle or spoon. Continue this process for about 10 minutes and then cover with a lid if required.

Make sure your beans are thoroughly cooked and not al dente, otherwise they’ll continue to cook in your gut. Allow beans to cool in their cooking liquid before serving. Beans always taste better the following day and freeze well – so go ahead and cook double the amount. Salting beans should always be done at the end of the cooking process as the salt inhibits the bean from softening, creating potential dinner disasters.

Beans are already filled with flavour but become more exciting when cooked with or added to vegetables. They tend to contain a fattiness that is made lighter and more digestible by adding something citrusy or vinegary at the end of the cooking process. Indian, Lebanese and Moroccan bean dishes tend to include a few drops of lemon juice, lime juice or rice vinegar in the final stages to bring all the flavours together and help create a potful of harmony.

For those who haven’t the time to soak and cook beans from scratch, go ahead and stock your pantry with some great-quality organic canned beans. They are such an amazing staple to have around and they allow you to create a sustaining meal in minutes. Make sure you rinse them before using and always taste to check their salt quantity and adjust your salt use accordingly.

Lastly, start a habit of chewing beans well, as this will make them much more digestible and easeful on the gut.

Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again