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Recipe - Bronwen King's Legumes - 23 Aug

One Pot Budget Meals Using Legumes

Legumes (including lentils, dried peas and beans) are nutritional powerhouses.  Rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein and fiber, and low in kilojoules and fat, they provide lots of good nutrition in a small package.  As well they are cheap!  The following recipes are all-in-one dishes that include legumes.

Tomato Lentil Soup - serves 8

1 large onion, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
500ml jar tomato pasta sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 Tb sugar
1 cup diced pumpkin
1 large potato, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3/4 cup red lentils
1 cup frozen peas
1 x 420g can beans e.g. cannellini beans

Combine onion, stock, pasta sauce, oregano, sugar, pumpkin, potato carrot and lentils in a saucepan, boil uncovered for 15 minutes.
Add peas and 4 bean mix and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
Delicious served with parsley, parmesan and bread. 

Sausage Hot Pot - serves 6 as a main course

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic
2 cups chopped vegetables e.g. peppers, carrot
parsnip, celery, zucchini, pumpkin
6 lean sausages, boiled and sliced
250g dry pasta e.g. spirals/macaroni/penne
1 x 420g can tomatoes
3 cups beef stock
1/4 cup tomato sauce or tomato paste
2 teaspoons sweet chilli sauce (more if you like it hotter)
1 x 420g can baked beans
2 cups frozen green beans

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan.  Cook onion, garlic and chopped vegetables for a few minutes until softened. Add sausage slices, pasta, tomatoes, beef stock, tomato sauce/paste and sweet chili sauce; cover pan and simmer for around 15 minutes or until the pasta is almost cooked. Add baked beans and frozen beans and cook for 5 minutes more before serving.  Season to taste and serve in large bowls. Is delicious garnished with thick yoghurt, grated parmesan and fresh chopped parsley. 


Points to note about legumes

- It is important to prepare and cook them properly or they are hard to digest.
- Some are harder to digest than others - soybeans are the most difficult to digest, but processed soybean products (miso, soy sauce, soy milk etc) are easy to digest.  Experiment with different varieties and note any side effects!
- Whole legumes e.g. whole chick peas, red kidney beans, should not be given to children under 18 months of age.  This is because toddlers' digestive systems cannot process them easily.  They could also cause choking.  Mashed or pureed as a dip, they are more digestible and can be given in small quantities.
- Some varieties of beans and lentils may be cooked without pre-soaking.  Bigger or thicker-skinned varieties cook better if they have been soaked first.
- Canned varieties are just as good and very convenient.  Get used to adding them to soups, salads, casseroles as well as using them as a base for meals.  They are also delicious pureed for dips or hummus.

Cooking legumes from scratch

Most dried legumes (with the exception of lentils) require soaking before cooking.  This shortens the cooking time and if you discard the soaking liquid, helps prevent flatulence and bloating
There are two common methods of soaking
- Overnight. Cover beans with about four times their volume of cold water.  Leave to stand for at least 8 hours or overnight then drain
- Quick soak. Cover with boiling water and leave to stand for 1-2 hours before cooking; drain

Cooking legumes

- Place drained soaked beans (or washed beans / lentils if they have not been pre-soaked) in a saucepan and cover with 4 times their volume of fresh water.
- Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered until tender.  Drain and use

Points to note when cooking legumes

- Do not add salt, lemon juice or tomatoes while they are cooking.  These ingredients toughen legumes and prevent them from softening
- Cooked legumes can be kept in the fridge for 2-4 days or frozen for future use
- The liquid drained from the beans after cooking makes good stock for soups or sauces
- 1 cup dried beans makes about 3 cups of cooked beans.  1/2 cup dried beans cooked is equivalent to 1 x 420g can of beans (drained)

The following will assist you to prepare legumes;

Legume                                          Soak                     Cooking time (mins)
Lentils and split peas                       No                         15 (red lentils) - 40
Black-eyed peas                             No                         30 - 40
Red kidney beans and chick peas    Yes                         70 - 120
Soy beans                                      Yes                        120 - 180