Feel the legume love

6 November, 2020

And keep your heart healthy with more pulses

There’s so much to love about legumes. High in fibre, a great source of plant-based protein and easy to cook. They’re super versatile and did we mention they’re cheap? Yes, lentils, chickpeas, cannellini beans and other pulses aren’t just good for you, they’re great for your hip pocket too as they’re very budget friendly.

It’s incredibly easy to add more legumes and pulses into your cooking at home. You can buy a huge range of already cooked and canned lentils and beans at your favourite supermarket, like Woolworths. All you need to do is drain and rinse, and they’re ready to use in your salads, soups, stews and more.

Or if you’re just a teensy bit more organised, an even cheaper option is to buy your lentils, chickpeas or beans dried and cook them yourself. Dried legumes are available bagged and ready to go in Woolworths, or you can buy as much or as little as you need by the scoop at places like Horn of Plenty on the ground level of Chatswood Interchange.

Most dried beans (except lentils) benefit from being soaked in cold water overnight before cooking; this helps to speed up the cooking time. (Insider tip: to speed up the cooking time, you can use a pressure cooker like this one from Japan Home Centre and you’ll have perfectly cooked pulses in a fraction of the time.)

But just how can you use them?

If you need some ideas for how you can use more lentils and other pulses in your meals, we’ve got you sorted. The great news is that as well as being incredibly good for you, legumes can be used in so many ways so the only factor limiting you is your creativity. Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Salads: Add bulk and substance to your lunchtime salad with some chickpeas. Make beans the star of the show with a three-bean salad. Create a sensational side to your Mexican feast with black beans, corn and tomato. The opportunities abound!
  • Dips and purees: Homemade hummus is next-level compared to the store bought version. You’ll want to embrace the Israeli way of eating it like a complete meal, not just as a snack with a few carrot sticks. Other great options include blending cannellini beans with cauliflower for a delicious alternative to mashed potato.
  • Soups and stews: Whether it’s as the star of the show, like a lentil and lemon soup, or mixed with other vegetables like in this sweet potato and white bean chilli, pulses are fantastic for adding texture and taking on flavour. For inspiration, why not check out some Indian curries or Middle Eastern recipes?
  • Making meat go further: If you don’t want a fully vegetarian meal but you are keen to get more fibre and nutrients into your family’s meals, replacing some meat with something like lentils is a great idea. An easy place to start is by bulking your bolognaise with some dried red lentils. They’ll be practically indetectable to fussy kids.
  • Fritters: If you’ve ever been put off felafel by a sad, dried example, you need to have a go at making your own. Dried chickpeas, as well as broad beans, can make the best felafel you’ve ever had, perfect for adding to your kebab or salad. Legumes also make great patties, like these spiced chickpea cakes.