We all know that eating dried legumes — also known as pulses — is great for your health: They’re packed with fiber, protein and vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin and Vitamin B6. Pulses are even getting their own International Year from the United Nations!
But getting those nutritious beans onto our plates can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Our first choice, dried beans prepared from scratch, requires an hour or more of cooking on top of soaking time (the less they soak, the longer they take to cook.) And canned beans, while convenient, just don’t have the same fresh flavor and texture as the legumes we cook up from scratch.
To the rescue: Lentils! These small, lens-shaped pulses have been cultivated since ancient times and can be found in a variety of sizes and colors including brown, green, red and black.
We delight in lentils’ savory taste, their textures and their colors — and we love the way they’re so easy to prepare.
No soaking needed: Most lentils are cooked through in 20 to 30 minutes. Pull them off the heat on the early side for perfectly al dente salad lentils; cook them longer for soups and spreads.
Lentils have a mild, yet satisfying savory taste that mingles well with many seasonings. In this salad recipe, Ronit keeps it simple with a fresh dressing of lemon, olive oil, herbs and her Garlic & Parsley Salt blend:
Get the recipe: »» Lentil Salad
Here’s another fascinating aspect of pulses: The plants that produce these legumes also pull nitrogen — a key plant nutrient — out of the air with their leaves, and then transmit it to the soil through their roots.
This quality has for centuries made pulses an important “cover crop,” used to improve soils before and after the cultivation of other foods. To acknowledge the importance of pulses to agriculture, the United Nations has declared 2016 will be the International Year of Pulses.
You heard it here first!