Pulses

What are Pulses?

Pulses are also known as legumes, and they are any seed that grows inside a pod, including chickpea, lentil, peas and many types of beans (at least that's the simplified definition according to Jesse, who taught our pulse workshop). 

They are essential sources of vegetarian protein for most of the world's people, and Canada alone grows about 6 million tonnes of these crops each year, mostly for export and animal feed. It's being officially recognized as such an important staple, that the year of 2016 was declared Year of the Pulses. 

Pulses can be used in everything from soups and curries, to making sprouts at home, and producing nutrient-dense flours.

Talk about versatile! Since they have their own hearty, meaty, protein-y quality, they're great for replacing meat in dishes, or supplementing dishes where you want to use less meat, such as meatballs. You can even use pulse flours for desserts.

As much as they are a staple, sometimes they're not the easiest to cook or get the timing right. Here's a handy Guide to Cooking Pulses, as well as a Cooking Chart.​ Before you throw your dry beans on the stove though, you might want to think about sprouting them first:

Sprouting Your Pulses

We've all experienced that unpleasant sensation when we've eaten some hummus, chilli or some kind of bean dish.

This is because the seed has sugars that protect it, which make it undigestible. Soaking and sprouting your seeds before cooking will wake them up and help break the sugar down. You can even sprout them for a few days, and eat them in their raw, easily digestible and very nutritious form (see below for sprouted salad recipe). Learn more on how to sprout here.

 

Sprouted Mung Bean & Lentil Salad

Salad

  • 1/2 cup each dried mung beans and beluga lentils (or other dried pulse of choice)

  • 3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley, dill or combination of both

  • 2-3 ribs celery finely diced

  • Optional additions: pomegranate seeds, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes

Dressing

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp honey

  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses (optional - but so good)

  • salt and pepper to taste

 

To Sprout:

  1. Scan pulses for any stones and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

  2. Place in a large jar or sprouting container with clean, cold water and top with sprouting screen or cheesecloth and elastic band.

  3. Leave on the counter, away from any direct sunlight, to soak overnight, or for 6-8 hours. Drain water and rinse thoroughly. Place container on its side so that the pulses disperse and have air circulation.

  4. Leave to sprout, continuing to rinse twice daily for another 24-48 hours, until sprouts are 1/4-12 inch long.

  5. Give a final rinse and spread on a clean tea towel, or spin gently in a salad spinner, to get rid of any excess water.

Assemble Salad:

  1. Dice celery and chop herbs.

  2. Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

  3. Toss with sprouts, celery, herbs and any optional additions.

Note: you could also make this with cooked and cooled pulses if you don't want to wait a few days for the sprouting.

Chickpea Flatbread (Socca)

Socca is a gluten free, super simple flatbread that is a great accompaniment to soups and stews, or can be used in place of tortillas, crepes, or even crackers.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chickpea flour

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (plus more for the pan)

  • ½ tsp salt

Optional additions: fresh or dried herbs and spices of your choice.

Feel free to be creative and change it to complement what you’re serving.

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients and set aside to allow the flour to absorb water for at least 1 hour (more is OK). Note: if adding fresh herbs, do this right before cooking. Dried herbs can be added prior to soaking time.

  2. Preheat oven to 450 F and place an 8-10” cast iron pan inside to heat up.*

  3. When oven and pan are hot, carefully remove pan, add additional olive oil to the pan (enough to coat) and swirl to coat. Pour in batter and cook for 10-15 minutes until the surface no longer glistens and edges are beginning to brown.

  4. Meanwhile, prepare toppings.

  5. Change oven heat to broil and place the pan on the top oven rack to allow the top to brown. Watch carefully to prevent burning.

  6. Take out of oven and add toppings that need to be cooked (ex cheese, raw veggies). Bake for another few minutes, until toppings are cooked. You may want to lower the heat.

  7. Remove from pan and cut into wedges. Best served warm (can be reheated).

​*Note: If using a smaller pan, cook the batter in batches. Feel free to play with pan circumference for thicker or thinner socca to suit your preferences. Keep in mind that a thicker socca may require additional cooking time.

Suggested Toppings

  • Simple herbs and olive oil

  • Hummus, garlic, rosemary, olive oil

  • Tomato sauce, zucchini, mushroom, basil (like pizza!)

  • Pesto, cherry tomato, cheese

Weeknight Lentil Curry

Make this savory curry during the weeknight, take it for leftover lunch, or even on your next overnight camping trip!

This recipe dehydrates and rehydrates very well. Find the full recipe here for Jesse's cooking tips and amazing food shots.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups red lentils

  • ½ cup green (we like French du Puy) lentils, or additional red are fine too

 

  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil (or ghee)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 medium red pepper

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1-inch piece of ginger grated or finely chopped

 

  • ½ tsp chili flakes

  • 1 tbsp brown mustard seeds

  • 2 tsp cumin

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tbsp garam masala

  • 2 tsp turmeric

  • 2 tsp sea salt

  • 500 ml jar canned tomatoes, with juices (or 2 large tomatoes, chopped)

 

  • 6-8 cups water

  • 2 cups chopped kale, chard, or spinach (optional)

  • 1 cup chopped cilantro

Method

  1. Rinse lentils and drain. Set aside.*

  2. Heat coconut oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add red pepper, garlic, and ginger. Continue to cook 2-3 minutes.

  3. Stir in spices (through salt) and allow to cook for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes.

  4. Finally, add lentils and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Cover partially and allow to simmer 30-45 minutes, or until lentils are soft.

  5. Just before serving, remove bay leaf and stir in optional kale. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in ½ cup cilantro.

  6. Ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining chopped cilantro.

*Lentils can be cooked quite quickly from their dried state, but you can soak them for up to 8 hours in 4-6 cups of water with a teaspoon of cider vinegar before cooking.  This aids in digestion, though is not absolutely necessary. Note: soaking will significantly reduce cooking time.

Spice Roasted Chickpeas

Jesse's Warning: these are addictive. I’ve made many batches of these over the past few years, with varied success and I’m now happy to report that I have been having consistent results with this recipe and method.  

 

There are a few key things that I believe contribute to this:

  • Removing excess moisture. To do this, actually take the time to dry the chickpeas, per instructions below;

  • Using canned chickpeas, instead of freshly cooked;

  • Ensuring the chickpeas aren’t crowded on the roasting pan;

  • Baking at a higher temperature for shorter period of time, rather than low and slow; and

  • Roasting on a convection setting or, if you don’t have a convection oven, increase the oven temperature by 25°F.

Ingredients

  • 2 14-oz cans quality chickpeas

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 ½ tbsp Mexican chili powder

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • ¼ tsp powdered garlic

  • ½ tsp hot smoked paprika

  • sea salt to taste

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F convection roast, or 400°F if you do not have a convection setting.

  2. Using a large sieve, drain chickpeas and rinse well with cold water. Shake off excess water and transfer chickpeas to a large, clean kitchen towel. Gently toss the chickpeas around the towel to remove excess water.

  3. Place chickpeas in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently with the spices and a little salt. Empty chickpeas onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and ensure they are in a single layer and the pan is not crowded.

  4. Place pan in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, gently shaking the pan once or twice during the process.

  5. The chickpeas are done when they appear dry and have a light crunch when you bite into them, but aren’t too hard. Remove from oven. While still hot, season with additional salt if necessary. Serve slightly warm, or completely cooled.

Note: if storing, ensure the chickpeas are completely cool, then place in a small tin to preserve their crispiness. They will keep for up to 3 days (if you can manage not to eat them before then). If you do find they have lost their crunch, toss them in the oven for 10 minutes.

©2018 by The Food Connection. All rights reserved.

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