Beans and lentils are not just for vegetarians. Versatile, healthy and great value, they can make the perfect accompaniment for a number of main dishes; served warm or cold. So why not be adventurous and start cooking with pulses?
Borlotti Bean Purée – In Italy, borlotti bean purée is served with roasted pork. Mix borlotti beans with garlic, olive oil, red onion, and a dash of balsamic vinegar, season, then blend until smooth. The purée also works well spread on crostini and topped with parma ham.
Pasta e Fagioli – Make a classic pasta e fagioli (Americans call this ‘Pasta Fazool’) with onions and garlic fried in olive oil, tinned tomatoes, borlotti beans and a small pasta such as macaroni or conchiglie.
Soups – Most chickpea soups, whether spicy Spanish stews or rustic minestrones, call for whole chickpeas. For a more delicate, velvety soup, try puréeing your chickpeas in a blender and sieve before serving for an extra smooth texture.
Popular dishes – Channa masala is a popular Punjabi street food – a bright orange red chickpea curry. Onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chillies and spices provide the base, with ‘amchour’ powder – dried unripe mango – giving the dish its characteristic sour note.
Available all year round, the most common are brown, red and green lentils, with puy and yellow becoming ever more popular.
Anchovies and fresh herbs – Add anchovies, chopped fresh herbs and freshly ground pepper into cooked lentils, taste, season and serve garnished with olives.
Sausages, meat and fish – Soften a chopped shallot in olive oil, add crushed garlic and finely chopped/thinly sliced bacon (or lardons). Stir into cooked lentils, adding chopped fresh parsley, salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with sausages, meat or fish.
White meat, veal, pork and ham in a creamy mustard sauce – Simply add seasoned cooked lentils on the side to soak up the richness of the dish.
View Carol Ridehalgh’s Chilli Lentil Salad with Goat’s Cheese recipe