Legumes

Legumes
16/10/2015 Carol Pavot

Legumes

There are many words one could use to describe the family of legumes, small however is not one of them. Legumes come in all sorts of colours, shapes, textures and flavours, so that even the most choosy and demanding eater is likely to find something to win him over eventually. On today’s menu: chickpeas and large white beans also known as butter beans or lima beans.

Emmanuel’s chickpea curry

Ingredients

200 g chickpeas, cooked
1 carrot
1 medium-sized zucchini
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 onion
1 large clove of garlic
1/2 red chilli
1 tbsp red curry paste
1 can of coconut milk
2 tbsp of coconut or canola oil
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a wok or a large pan and place the previously chopped onion, the chilli, the red curry paste and the minced garlic in its centre. Fry for a couple minutes, stirring, until the onions become soft and translucent. Cut the carrot into fine slices and add to the pan. Dice the tomatoes, slice the zucchini and put both of them into the pan as well. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then pour in the creamy coconut milk and season with salt and pepper. Finally add the chickpeas, give everything a good stir and let the curry simmer for 10 minutes.

Squash & chickpea curry

Ingredients

400 g chickpeas, cooked
1 orange Hokkaido squash
400 g diced canned tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 onion
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 tsp of cumin
1/3 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp of coriander
1 tsp of turmeric
1 can of coconut milk
salt

Cut the Hokkaido squash into medium-sized cubes (there’s no need to peel it, hurray!). Finely chop the ginger and the onion. Pour some canola oil into a large pot, add the onion and the ginger and fry for about 2 minutes (you can replace canola oil with a spoonful of coconut fat). Add the squash as well as the rest of your spices, stir and fry on medium heat for another minute. Now you can pour in the tomatoes and the coconut milk. If the milk has separated, use only the firm creamy part and leave out the coconut water. Taste and season with salt, give your curry another stir and leave to simmer away on gentle heat for 10 more minutes. Now add the chickpeas, turn off the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes allowing the flavours to blend. The result will be much better than if you serve it right away.

Easy-peasy chickpea salad

Ingredients

400 g chickpeas, cooked
1 small red onion
1 large ripe tomato
a handful of chives
salt & pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Finely chop the onion and the chives. Roughly chop up the tomato and combine in a large bowl with the chickpeas, the chives and the onion, add a splash of olive oil and finally season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let your salad sit for at least 10 minutes and don’t forget to give it a good last stir before serving.

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on a sweet onion, just forget about the red one and don’t hesitate to use it in your salad instead.

Asian-style chickpea salad

Ingredients

200g chickpeas, cooked
a handful of red radishes
2 spring onions
1/2 of a greenhouse cucumber
a handful of fresh dill
2 spoonfuls of soy sauce
1 tbsp of roasted sesame oil
a splash of canola or unroasted sesame oil

Cut the radishes into small cubes. Deseed the cucumber (cut it in half, then with a spoon scoop out the seeds) and chop to match the radish cubes. Finely chop the spring onions (white and green parts) and the dill as well. Toss everything into a big bowl, throw in the chickpeas, add the soy sauce and the oil. Now it’s time to taste and adjust the seasoning with some more of the soy sauce and, if needed, freshly ground pepper.

Chickpea super fast food

Hummus
Blend a cup of cooked chickpeas with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, one clove of garlic, a spoonful of tahin paste, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Lunch-box salad
Toss a cup of cooked chickpeas with some finely chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or coriander, throw in a chopped spring onion, pour in some olive oil or flaxseed oil and squeeze in some lemon juice (you can add a small splash of white wine vinegar instead) and you’re ready to go.

If you have some leftover raw veggies in pantry or fridge – maybe an avocado, some tomatoes or a sad lonely carrot or bell pepper, feel free to throw them in – it’ll make your salad even better. Go by the rule: the more the merrier! :)

Using freshly cooked chickpeas does make a difference. They taste nutty and buttery and soak up all the flavours of your dish really well. Also, you can enhance their flavour during the cooking process by putting spices like a bay leaf or a bird’s eye chilli into the cooking water.

Now, if you want your chickpeas to be ready on time, think ahead. Put the dried chickpeas into a large pot, cover with water and let them soak in a cool place for at least 8 hours or – even better – overnight. They’ll double in size so take twice as much water as the amount of chickpeas you’re using. Before cooking, get rid of the soaking water, cover them with fresh water and bring to the boil. Now lower the heat and cook on small heat for about 1 to 1.5 hours. No need to worry if you don’t use them up all at once. Once they’re cooked, they’ll keep inside your fridge for 4-5 days and you’ll have them ready to toss into your salads and curries whenever you want.

Indian-spiced white bean stew

Ingredients

200 g of dried white beans
1 bay leaf
4 pepper corns
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of tandoori masala
salt
optional: 1 tsp potato starch or wheat flour

Soak the beans overnight – or longer – in a large pot. Make sure it’s big enough for you to prepare the entire dish in it later on. Discard the soaking water and cover the beans with fresh water. Add the bay leaf and the pepper corns and bring to the boil. Let the beans cook for around 40 minutes on a small heat.

Meanwhile chop the onion and the garlic. Pour some olive oil into a pan and add first the onion, then the garlic and sauté both of them for a little while on low heat. Take one bean out of the pot and have a bite. If the bean is almost cooked to perfection, add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, the spices, the sugar and the onions and garlic from the pan. Season with salt and let it simmer gently for another 15 minutes, lifting the lid slightly. You want the beans to be cooked and the sauce to thicken on its own.

If you find your sauce still needs to be a bit thicker after the 15 minutes are over, mix 1/4 cup of cold water with a teaspoon of flower or potato starch and stir into the beans. Cook for 2 more minutes, then turn off the heat. The dish is ready to serve straight away but, like so often in cooking, it’s even better after a good rest. An hour or so on the stove and it’ll rock your palate. Scoop the beans out into big soup plates and serve with a slice of good bread.

White bean salad

Ingredients

300 g large white beans, cooked
1/2 red onion
1/2 red chilli
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 large ripe tomato
herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil & oregano
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

Cut the onion into thin slices, chop the tomato and combine in a salad bowl with the beans, the lemon juice, the finely chopped chilli, two or three generous spoonfuls of olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper and the herbs of your choice (make sure you have at least two of them in your salad though). Now set the bowl with the salad aside and give it some time alone to make sure the flavours blend well together. Serve with good pan-toasted slices of ciabatta or sour-dough bread.

Butter bean curry

Ingredients

400 g butter beans, cooked
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 tsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground cloves
1/2 of a chilli
a thumb-sized piece of ginger
2 tbsp of coconut oil
1 tsp of sugar
salt

Put the coconut oil into a large pan or a wok and add the cumin and the mustard seeds. Sauté them for half a minute, then add the chopped onion, the minced garlic, ginger and chilli. Keep the wok on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring, and once the onion turns a light golden colour, add the finely sliced carrot, the chopped tomatoes and the zucchini slices. After another 3 minutes, add the remaining spices and season everything with sugar and salt. Cook for a few more minutes on low heat, then add the butter beans to the curry. You’re pretty much done now: cover the curry with a lid and leave to simmer for 3 more minutes, then serve.

Every time we eat beans, we experience something that turns out to be a bit of a nuisance and makes some of us more miserable than others… Yes, let’s face it: beans cause flatulence. It’s not a pleasant occurrence, not for the person concerned, and certainly not for those who happen to be around at that unfavourable time. But there’s actually something you can do about it: fennel seeds, caraway seeds and savory make the beans more digestible and lessen the chances of gas issues after enjoying a bean dish.

And once again we need to turn the spotlight on soaking! The longer beans soak, the less likely they are to produce gases. Also, they cook much much faster after a good day’s soaking so you’re saving energy as well.

Always use fresh water to cook the beans and discard the soaking water. Don’t worry about the minerals you might loose with the soaking water – there’s still plenty of them remaining inside the bean, so the loss is pretty small.

Remember to cook the beans on low heat until they are soft. That way they will cook all the way through and be soft and creamy inside without falling apart. Boiling beans too aggressively often results in an undesirably firm skin while the rest of the bean is perfectly cooked.

Heads up: eating undercooked beans is very harmful for your health because of the toxins naturally found in raw beans. The amount of toxins is reduced during the cooking process to a very small, insignificant amount, but you really have to make sure the beans actually cook and not simmer under the boiling point – otherwise the toxins still remain within the bean and may cause serious food poisoning. Dear my, do not underestimate the beans I say. They may look all pretty and innocent but behind that colourful surface lurks a mischievous legume all too keen to make our lifes miserable if we treat it the wrong way. ;)

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