Lentils and chickpeas aren’t as dull as they sound – there are so many delicious recipes to try and you needn't be a vegan to incorporate them into your everyday diet.
Once you get the hang of preparing them, you will be converted to the non-tinned varieties! They are a wonderful source of protein and high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and protective phytochemicals. They are low-GI, so they will keep you going for longer and are especially good for people with diabetes.
To cook chickpeas, soak them overnight in cold water, drain and rinse, then cook in salted water for about an hour. The salt brings out the flavour so it is very important! Once they are cooked, refresh with cold water, drain and store in the fridge, ready for salads or dips.
To cook puy lentils for salads, rinse well in cold water then simmer for about 20 minutes in salted water. When cooked, refresh with cold water and drain. Store in the fridge.
Other lentils, such as the red, green and brown variety, are more commonly used in soups stews and curries – so follow the recipes.
Other pulses include split peas, lima beans, red kidney beans, borlotti beans, black-eyed peas, adzuki beans, haricot beans and cannellini beans. These are all cooked the same way as chickpeas.
Now, let’s get cooking some simple recipes with chickpeas and lentils.
Red lentil dip
- 2 cups of red lentils
- 3 cups of water
- 1/3 cup of light olive oil
- 1/3 cup of lemon juice
- 1½ tsp sea salt
- 2 cloves crushed garlic – optional
- 1 tsp cumin – optional
- Place the red lentils and water in saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for two minutes.
- Cover and stand for 12 minutes.
- Place the lentil mixture in the food processor with the other ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Place in plastic containers and store in the fridge. The dip will last for about three to four days.
Lamb loins with spinach, lentil and fetta salad (serves four)
- 4 small lamb loins
- ½ small bunch of rosemary – stripped
- Olive oil
- Ground pepper
- 1 cup of cooked puy lentils
- 1 medium red onion – finely diced and soaked in water for an hour then drained
- ½ bunch of flat leaf parsley – chopped
- 300g fetta – crumbled finely
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 150g baby spinach leaves
- Brush the loins with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary and pepper, cover and place in the fridge for at least two hours.
- To cook the lentils, boil in salted water for 20 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water. Then mix all the salad ingredients together and set aside.
- Cook the lamb in a preheated 180C oven for 10 minutes. Alternatively, the lamb can be barbequed.
- Let the lamb rest for five minutes.
- Slice the lamb into five or six slices per loin and serve on top of the spinach, lentils and fetta salad.
- Divide the salad between four plates and top with the slices of lamb.
- Serve with a glass of your favourite Pinot.
- 2 cups of cooked chick peas (tinned, if you must)
- 1/3 cup of lemon juice
- 1 clove crushed garlic – optional
- ½ cup of flat leaf parsley – chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup of shaved parmesan
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- Pinch of sea salt
- 200g baby spinach leaves
- Soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight.
- Rinse well and cook the chickpeas in boiling salted water for about an hour.
- Rinse in cold water and drain well.
- Mix all ingredients together.
Hint: This salad is fabulous with chicken and lamb.
To get even more creative with pulses and legumes, see my previous posts for hommus, vegetable and lentil soup and warm chicken salad.