The U.N. declared 2016 the year of pulses. Here, some great recipes to celebrate with.
The U.N. General Assembly has declared 2016 the year of pulses.
Pulses, which, per the U.N., are dried leguminous crops with one to 12 seeds per pod that are used for food or animal feed (and not for oil, for example), and are amazing nutritional powerhouses that also do hugely beneficial things to the ground in which they grow.
What all of this means for us is that we should go wild cooking with lentils, dried beans, chickpeas and black eyed peas as often as we can. Here are some fantastic recipes to get you started. Most all of them give you a headstart by calling for canned beans and chickpeas, but you can always soak and boil your own if you prefer.
I think of this chickpea stew as a magical recipe. It's super-delicious on its own and very easy to make in 30 minutes or less since it starts with canned chickpeas. The magic is how versatile it is—you can spice it up by adding cayenne, or add a nice smoky flavor with a bit of sweet or hot pimenton. (Pimentón wasn't a go-to spice when the recipe was originally published!) You can also turn it into a main course by folding in some scrubbed mussels or setting quick-cooking skinless salmon or cod fillets, or shrimp, on top and simmering the stew just until there done.
This hearty bean stew is Jacques Pépin's easy take on a classic regional French dish called garbure. It starts with dried cannellini beans that get simmered with leek, celery, carrots, parsnips, cabbage and a meaty ham hock, so the broth is super-flavorful. Best of all, the stew is served topped with a crispy crouton and melted Gruyère cheese.
These simple-to-prepare red lentils (recipe by Hiyaw Gebrojohannes) are flavored with an Ethiopian spice mix called berbere (bur-bur-RAY) that's a mix of cardamom, chile powder, fenugreek and coriander, along with other spices. Red lentils cook faster than green, brown and black lentils, and they lose most of their structure, cooking down to a thick and somewhat chunky puree.
This silky eggplant, pepper and lentil dish comes from the amazing Turkish chef Musa Dagdeviren. The best thing about the recipe, beside the fact that it's super-delicious, is that it goes with and dresses up anything you serve it alongside, from a simple roast chicken or steak or chop or fillet of fish to eggs, boiled potatoes, roasted butternut squash, or a simple bowl of rice. It's one of those dishes that gets better as it sits, so you can make it three or four days before you plan to serve it—if you can resist!
The addition of smoky andouille or kielbasa makes this soup extra tasty and amplifies the smoke from the chipotle, but what really sets it apart from so many other black bean soups is that it's not pureed. Some of the beans are simply crushed into the soup, giving it a lovely texture.
Don't worry if you can't find pork cheeks—you can still make this hearty, spice-laced black eyed pea chili from chef Michael Symon using cubes of trimmed pork shoulder. The addition of a nice amber ale or porter really beefs up the flavor of the broth, as does the smog bacon that's added early on. If you haven't decided what to make for the Super Bowl, this would be a perfect pick.
This slightly improbable-sounding Middle Eastern dish was a surprise hit when we made it in our kitchen. The dates give the sesame-studded turkey meatballs a slight hint of sweetness, which pairs perfectly with the tangy yogurt and the earthy French green lentils that are cooked with garlic, thyme and a cinnamon stick.