Lentils and pulses: quick and easy recipes
Raise your pulse rate with our healthy soups, salads and dips.
Lentils and pulses are sexy. You saw it here first. So before you read on, throw those preconceptions about sandal-wearing hippies and worthier-than-thou lentil bakes on the compost heap.
First, a few rules:
Pulses – all of them, without exception – need slow cooking or they will turn into hard pellets. Worse still, they’ll go mushy on the inside, with tough outer skins. All, except lentils, need soaking; overnight is the least arduous way – you sleep, they work.
An alternative for those who can’t or won’t plan ahead is to boil the beans for 2 minutes, remove them from the heat and cover for an hour, then rinse, return to a pan, cover with 5cm water, then proceed with a couple of hours of slow cooking – an hour will do in a pressure cooker, but make sure you check their progress. Cooks from the Middle East, who know more about these things than anyone else, say that a chickpeas has to break down easily when pressed against the palate with the tip of the tongue.
So, they should be neither hard, nor ‘al dente’. Remember not to add salt – no bouillon powder, no soy sauce, no seasoning at all – until the pulses are suitably tender. You can, however, add bay leaves to the cooking water, whole peeledcloves, a chopped up carrot or two, a chopped onion, a lemon cut in half (remember this when you come to making the Puy Lentil Salad, below), or, should you have such a strange thing handy, a big piece of Kombu seaweed (macrobiotics swear it speeds up the cooking process and eases the digestion).
Once the pulses are cooked, go wild, absolutely wild with the aromatics and the olive oil and the fresh herbs.
Some good news…
To put it bluntly, pulses get a bad press for giving you – ahem – wind. The truth is, the more often you eat them, the more your gut accustoms itself. Try my delicious suggestions, and soon it will feel like eating baby food. If you have high cholesterol, adding 100g of any pulse to your diet on a daily basis will reduce your level by close to 20%.