Something that had been on my to do list for a very long time was to start cooking legumes from dry rather than opening that convenient tin. So if you aren’t sure quite how or why you might want to do this, here’s how, why and a couple of recipes to use them!
So first off what exactly is a legume?
Legumes are the dry edible seeds of plants in the legume family and include lentils, peas and beans. You can buy them in dried form, tinned or you can grow your own and dehydrate them for rehydration and cooking later.
Why bother cooking your own?
They taste so much better is probably my first reason, but you can buy large quantities and batch cook saving time and hopefully money as we’re all looking to be a bit more economical aren’t we?! I did work out the cost and without factoring in the time and energy required, they were marginally cheaper – but I do buy organic which are more expensive. I’ve also read that they may be more digestible due to the complete destruction of so-called anti-nutrients like lignans, lectins and phytates which plants produce for all kinds of reasons. There seems to be differing schools of thought as to whether these are negative or positive and that’s a rabbit hole for another post. However, there are definitely certain phytochemicals that we need to avoid like the plague – we’ve all heard of the importance of boiling red kidney beans for 10 minutes if using from raw. These beans contain phytohaemagglutinin which can make you very very sick. It’s not surprising that many people decide I’ll just buy a tin!
How to cook them
They take a very long time to cook if you use a normal saucepan on a hob and they mustn’t be added to a slow cooker either as it won’t destroy the anti-nutrients that can make you sick. But a pressure cooker does the job in just 20 minutes. My old Prestige recipe book recommended the following:
Once cool, I then bagged them up into 400g quantities as that’s what most recipes call for and popped them into the freezer. I cooked butter beans and chickpeas to start with and I’ll get some red kidney beans once I’ve used up my stash of tins. Quite a lot went into our mouths before being frozen. I also found that there seemed to be more beans for weight, likely because the weight of the can also includes the liquid?
Legumes are highly nutritious and full of fibre which is great for your gut microbiome. Rich in plant protein, vitamins and minerals and not just for vegetarians/vegans!
The first recipe I did was humous which I made with butter beans instead of the usual chickpeas. I’ve adapted a recipe from my Ninja food processor recipe book which is in my opinion is the nicest humous recipe in the world! I added some roasted beetroot which were cooked the day before when the oven had been put on for something else. See the images below for the recipe.
Sweet potato & butter bean stew
One of the family favourites – cheap, quick and easy to make. Source click Ocado for the full details. But I’ve listed the ingredients and instructions to follow below:
450g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
400g peeled whole plum tomatoes, chopped
1 splash balsamic vinegar
400g canned butterbeans, drained and rinsed
1 handful fresh spinach, (or Swiss chard)
150ml Greek-style yogurt
1 handful fresh mint, to garnish
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
- Cook the sweet potatoes and maple syrup in a large wide pan of boiling salted water for 10 minutes until tender, but not too soft. Drain well, and set aside to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large wide pan or deep frying pan over a low heat. Add the onion, cumin seeds, and a pinch of salt, and sweat for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Tip in the tomatoes, including any juices, and the balsamic vinegar, and cook for about 10 minutes. Taste, and season with salt and black pepper.
- Add the butterbeans, and simmer for a further 5 minutes, then stir through the Swiss chard or spinach. Cook for a couple of minutes more until the leaves just wilt. Remove from the heat, and top with the sweet potatoes. Preheat the grill to hot.
- Transfer to an ovenproof dish, top with mozarella and yogurt, and grill until golden. Garnish with mint leaves.
Butter bean squash curry
I really like this recipe and it makes a big quantity so you can batch freeze for another day, or heat it up for lunch the following day. I’ve adapted it from this website (see link) I added some broccoli and a sliced onion at the beginning because I love onion, it’s yummy in curry and your gut microbes love it!
6 cloves garlic
1 onion sliced in rings
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5–6 cups peeled, chopped squash (I used kabocha – butternut would be good, too)
400g can butter beans
400g can thick coconut milk
3 tablespoons red curry paste (I used Massaman curry paste)
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon honey
2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
Rice to serve
cilantro for topping
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and ginger. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until soft and fragrant.
Sprinkle the dry seasonings (curry, chili, turmeric, cayenne) over the squash and toss to combine. Pour the coconut milk into the skillet and whisk the curry paste, peanut butter, and honey into the coconut milk until smooth. Add the seasoned squash and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until squash is tender but not mushy. Add butter beans. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes (the sauce will thicken).
Serve with rice. Add chopped cilantro just before serving.
Let me know if you try any of the above and happy cooking! 😊