Pulses! You know I’m a fan. (Did you know I wrote a book on the subject?)
If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to the edible dried seed of legumes, like dry peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils. Pulses are quite possibly the world’s perfect food – high in fibre and protein, low in fat, inexpensive, versatile, easy to store, and good for the environment – as they grow, pulses fix the nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for fertilizer in crop rotations. And they can be found in virtually every cuisine in the world – a pulse is as fitting in a bowl of Cacio e Pepe in Italy as in an Indian chana masala or daal, or a can of British baked beans. And they’re a huge Canadian crop – 65% of the world’s lentils come from Canada, mainly Saskatchewan – which makes me love them even more.
Today is the second annual Global Pulse Day, a global event to celebrate pulses and continue the momentum of the International Year of Pulses (last year), to spread the word about how amazing they are, and to educate more people about how easy they are to cook. (Home cooks tend to get intimidated by the idea of soaking, which really only requires covering dry beans with water to jump-start the hydration process – and did you know dry lentils don’t require any soaking at all?) As part of the festivities, and to encourage more eating of pulses today, Pulse Canada asked me to round up some of my favourite recipes, like the miso roasted chickpeas up at the top.
This is one of my favourite recipes – my go-to Julia Child sandwich bread, boosted with pureed white beans for added protein and fibre. The bread retains its whiteness, it’s taste and texture, but has the fibre of whole wheat bread.
I also do this with pizza dough, and even waffles and pancakes – no one knows the beans are there. (This is a great thing when you have a kid who would happily live on pancakes and bread.)
Speaking of lentils for breakfast, when my best friend Sue (with whom I wrote Spilling the Beans) once mentioned her habit of stirring a spoonful of dry red lentils into her morning porridge to boost fibre and protein. Genius, I say. Those lentils, split through their middles, cook quickly, and perfectly mimic oats – only they’re far higher in fibre, and the bean-grain combo provides a complete protein. And what does everyone seem to want more of in their breakfasts? Protein and fibre. So I gave it a try in a batch of baked oatmeal with berries.
They have such a mellow flavour, they can be tossed dry into just about anything – soups, stews, chili, spaghetti sauce and sloppy Joes – they soak up the flavours of the sauce they simmer in.
I almost always add a small shake from the lentil jar when I make squash or sweet potato soup – or any that are destined to be pureed. I love this sweet potato and red lentil soup with apples.
Speaking of pulses, squash and apples – this turkey chili with butternut squash and apples has been one of the most popular recipes since I started this blog. (I posted a version back in the early days too – but I’ll spare you the picture.)
And chickpeas! I adore them. Especially in big, grainy salads – the kind you can make and keep in the fridge to dip into for lunch and dinner. This is one of my hands-down favourites.
This salad is similar, but worth sharing as well – if you haven’t made wheat berries before, you should try them – they’re so dense, nutty and chewy, and perfect for pairing with lentils, chickpeas and other pulses.
And this soup! I could do a whole post dedicated exclusively to bean soups, but this one stands out as one of my favourites I go back to.
And this one! The photo says it all. I need more soup in my life.
I feel like people often forget about black beans, especially in their dry form. This Brazilian black bean stew is one of my favourite things.
I’ve always been a fan of chili, and realized recently how much I love a vegetarian chili, loaded with beans. One of my new year’s resolutions was to have a batch of this (or something similar) in the fridge at all times – it’s truly fantastic, and gets better after a few days. I love having something so healthy I can grab instead of toast for a quick lunch at my desk, or to fill that late afternoon gap.
W asked yesterday if every week we could have taco Tuesday – which doesn’t have to mean a box of mix. These black bean tacos with feta and shredded Brussels sprouts are divine.
I came across this one in my archives, and had forgotten – we all know hummus, but did you know a can of kidney beans can be transformed into a similarly delicious, spicy dip?
I’m a fan of real baked beans, especially simmered with Guinness – this slow cooker version is easy, too.
I could go on, and perhaps I’ll do another round up of my favourite pulse recipes – for now, I’m just going to keep sharing new ways to cook them. I’d love to hear yours! Thanks to Pulse Canada for sponsoring this post, and for all you do to spread the word about pulses.