The Ultimate Cooking Guide: Legumes

This is the fourth installment of “The Ultimate Cooking Guide” series. You can read the previous ones here: Terms, Tools, Grains and Starches

Legumes are the strength behind plant based dishes. They pack a punch of protein and other vital nutrients to our bodies. They also serve as the hearty meat replacement, sometimes even by mimicking it’s flavor. Beans are great smashed into burgers, lentils are delicious in salads, and tempeh makes excellent “bacon”.

Beans

Beans are either canned or dried, but a few are fresh or frozen. We use canned beans a lot around here, but making them from scratch is of course the healthiest option. However, preparing fresh beans requires a necessary soaking step in order to remove toxins. So remember to always soak your beans and discard your soaking liquid. If you decide to take the leap and make your own, here is a handy guide to preparing beans.

Adzuki:

Soak in large bowl of water for 1-2 hours. Drain and rinse. Put soaked beans in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for about 45 to 60 minutes, until tender.

Black:

Soak in large bowl of water for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse. Put soaked beans in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for about 45 to 60 minutes, until tender.

Chickpeas/Garbanzo:

Soak in large bowl of water for 8-10 hours. Drain and rinse. Put soaked beans in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for about 90 to 120 minutes, until tender.

Kidney (Red or White):

Soak in large bowl of water for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse. Put soaked beans in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for about 60 to 90 minutes, until tender.

Lima:

Soak in large bowl of water for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse. Put soaked beans in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for about 60 to 90 minutes, until tender.

Pinto:

Soak in large bowl of water for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse. Put soaked beans in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for about 90 minutes, until tender.

Soybean:

Soak in large bowl of water for 8-10 hours. Drain and rinse. Put soaked beans in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for about 2 to 3 hours, until tender.

White (Great Northern, Navy, etc.):

Soak in large bowl of water for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse. Put soaked beans in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for about 45 to 60 minutes, until tender.

 

Lentils and Peas

Lentils and peas are legumes that require no special treatment prior to cooking. They are incredibly versatile, especially for a plant based kitchen. I love to replace ground beef in recipes for lentils or to add some bright green peas to a dish that is lacking protein. Remember to sift through lentils before preparing to check for little pebbles that may have ended up in the mix.

Black Beluga Lentils:

Bold earthy flavor, hold their shape well

Bring 1 cup lentils and 2 1/4 lentils to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer, cook for about 25 to 30 minutes.

Black Eyed Peas

Bold earthy flavor, similar to Pinto Beans

Soaking isn’t necessary, but it shortens cooking time. Cover 1 cup dried peas in a pot of water, bring to a boil and cool for about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let peas stand for about an hour. Drain and rinse. Refill the pot with 3 cups fresh water and the peas. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook with the lid slightly off to allow steam to escape. Cook for about an hour, until tender.

Brown Lentils:

Mild earthy flavor, can get mushy, versatile

Bring 1 cup lentils and 3 cups water to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer, cook for about 30 to 40 minutes.

French Green/Puy Lentils:

Bold peppery flavor, hold shape well

Bring 1 cup lentils and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer, cook for about 40-45 minutes.

Red Lentils:

Mild creamy flavor, break down while cooking

Bring 1 cup lentils and 3 cups water to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer, cook for about 15 to 25 minutes.

 

Soy Products

Soy gets a bit of a bad rep. It has estrogen mimicking properties so, when highly processed, it can be detrimental to our health. Products like vegan fake meat or cheese, soybean oil, and soy lecithin are a few to steer clear of. The good news is that minimally or not processed soy can be a healthy addition to a diet. Soy, in a state that is closer to it’s natural one, has lots of protein and is a great alternative to artery clogging meat.

Edamame:

These are fresh soy beans in the pods, which are super easy to prepare. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add fresh or frozen edamame. Boil for about 5 minutes, until they are soft and the beans separate easily from the pods. This neutral legume works well with any seasoning you like!

Miso:

Miso is basically fermented soy beans with salt. Sometimes other grains are added like barley or rice, which can change the flavor profile. It comes in a paste that’s loaded with super healthy probiotics. It can be dissolved in hot water to make soup or used as a seasoning.

Tempeh:

Tempeh is made by fermenting whole soybeans to create a block that is sliced. It is less processed than tofu, which means it holds onto more of it’s nutritional value. Tempeh can be marinated, barbecued, grilled, baked, fried, etc. It’s rich flavor means that it works well with bold flavors and it’s firm texture makes it a great meat replacement.

Tofu:

Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk to create a firm block. Because of the number of steps involved, it is considered a processed soy product. It typically comes in three textures: soft/silken, firm, and extra firm. Soft/silken tofu is great in desserts or as a heavy cream replacement because it is very creamy and soft. Firm and extra firm tofu are typically used in whole pieces. It has a very neutral flavor and can be used in nearly every dish with any marinade or seasoning.

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