Top 5 best beans and pulses to add to your cooking
My favourite beans/ pulses to use as a meat substitute and to bulk out meals
As a kid I hated beans because I was under the impression that all beans tasted like a can of baked beans without actually trying any other bean products. I was one of those baked beans haters and to be honest I still find that I have to add sausage and cheese to canned baked beans just to stomach the idea of eating them. This being said after living with vegans and vegetarians and eating food that can be eaten by all in the household I discovered a love for beans. While I am not vegan or veggie it’s still good to have those cooking skills to cater for your vegan or vegetarian guests and subsituting meat for other items like beans, mushrooms and pulses can be a great way to reduce your meat consumption for ethical reasons and can also save you money (meat can be expensive). These are my top 5 favourite beans for use in cooking.
1. Black beans - Black beans are the main ingredient in the traditional Chinese sauce; black bean sauce. Black beans are great to add to your cooking for their texture and flavour. They are commonly found on supermarket shelves often stocked in either cans or dried packaging. I prefer cans because I never plan far ahead enough to soak them but you may want to try dried if you wanted to reduce the salt that you consume. I prefer to cook with these in a dish with a tomatoe based sauce with lots of vegetables and rice. If you are not vegetarian/ vegan they do also go well with meat. If you want a meaty substitute to go with your black beans then you could use a meat free sausage instead. I’ve recently been cooking with Heck Vegan sausages and I really rate them.
2. edamame beans - these green beans have a bit more crunch and freshness to them. They are often sold packaged as fresh, canned or dried. I always opt for the fresh version which may be what creates my experience.
3. Butter beans - as the name suggests these have a buttery texture. They are great if you want a bean to add a creamy texture to your cooking and can be brought as dried or canned. As with black beans I tend to opt for the canned versions.
4. Chick peas - These are great to add to a meal as a way to bulk them out I tend to think of them as having a slightly nutty flavour. Chick peas are great in a spiced meal to increase its volume. You can find them on the shelves in canned or dried varieties. They are also the main ingredient of hummus.
5. Lentils - The main ingredient of the Indian dish tarka dhal these are great pulses for soaking up flavours (tarka dhal is all about that those flavours). Lentils are a really cheap ingredient and can be used (in the case of dishes like tarka dhal) with relatively few other ingredients. They are also used by people as a substitute for mince meat dishes. There are so many types of lentils available. The most common of these are red and green lentils. Red lentils are the lentils that are used in tarka dhal. Where I am red lentils are usually sold dry whilst green lentils can be found dried, canned or sometimes in packets such as those by merchant gourmet. Dried lentils are usually the cheapest form to purchase lentils in. Dried lentils may have to be soaked beforehand and will swell during the cooking process (which can be long). With the dried lentils brands that I have tried; cooking can sometimes be up to 40 minutes but this will depend on the brand so use the instructions as a guide. I cook with both dried or canned lentils. You can also find black and brown lentils.
Beans and pulses are a great choice if you are looking to reduce your meat consumption or to make bulk meals most are also a good source of protein and fibre. This vocal post was written in response to the following article about how one vocal writer replaces meat with beans.
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