Legumes

♫ “Beans, beans they’re good for your heart…” ♫

English: High Resolution Image of Kidney Beans...

English: High Resolution Image of Kidney Beans. Français : Haricots rouges secs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the fact that I absolutely love beans, I can’t mention them without thinking about this childhood song that my youngest brother obsessively chanted during one of his phases…

Technically defined as a plant that bears seed pods that split along two opposite sides when ripe, legumes is a term used in the culinary world to refer to the seeds of the pods -beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and lots of other protein-rich options.

Super easy to prepare, they make a delicious, inexpensive and highly satisfying meal.

As many legumes require pre-soaking, it’s worthwhile to become familiar with the different varieties detailed below. However, you can use the same basic procedure for preparing all dried legumes. By adding vegetables, spices and even meats, you can turn these simple legumes into an endless number of dishes.

GENERAL PREPARATION METHOD FOR ALL DRIED LEGUMES:

  • Pick over to remove foreign particles
  • Soak overnight in 3x volume of water
  • Drain
  • Place in a pot and add fresh cold water
  • Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer
  • Cover and cook until tender

MOST COMMON VARIETIES:

KIDNEY BEANS

  • All kidney beans originate from the same plant that produces fresh green beans. These green beans are allowed to ripen until the seeds are mature and dry.
NAME CHARACTERISTICS
Red Brownish-red and kidney-shaped
Pink Pink and smaller
Pinto    Tan with brown spots                      
Black Black, small and oval
Cranberry/Borlotti Pink spotted with red

HARICOT BEANS

  • A sub-group of Kidney beans, Haricot beans refer to varieties of white Kidney beans.
NAME CHARACTERISTICS
Cannellini Large, kidney-shaped
Great Northern Medium – sized
Flageolet Small and pale green
Navy   Small and oval
Pea Oval but smaller than navy beans
Rice Close in size to a grain of rice

PEAS

  • Made from fresh peas that have been dried, these are quick-cooking and don’t require pre-soaking.
NAME CHARACTERISTICS
Green Often split, with their hull removed to make split peas
Yellow Often split, with their hull removed to make split peas
Black-eyed Small, white, kidney-shaped with a black spot
Pigeon Small, round, beige spotted with brown

LENTILS

  • Small and lens-shaped, lentils are also quick-cooking and do not require pre-soaking.
NAME CHARACTERISTICS
Green Green lentils from Le Puy, France are the most desirable
Brown Medium-brown to greenish-brown
Red Popular in India, these are split lentils that turn yellow when cooked
Yellow Split lentils

LIMA BEANS/BUTTER BEANS

  • Flat, broad beans which come in multiple sizes, are creamy white or pale green color and have a very starchy texture.

CHICKPEAS/CECI/GARBANZOS

  • Famous for being the main ingredient in hummus,. these round and beige beans stay firm and whole when cooked.

FAVA BEANS

  • They have tough skin and a creamy brown color with a starchy interior.

SOYBEANS

  • Require a very long cooking time. Most often used to make soy products such as miso.

MUNG BEANS

  • Popular in China, these small and round beans with a green exterior and white interior, are often split.

ADZUKI BEANS

  • Primarily used in Asia, these small, oval and red beans can also be used in sweet dishes.

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