Selecting Pulses: Beans, Peas and Legumes

Selecting Pulses

Choose legumes with a deep color and shiny exterior. Legumes that are not glossy indicate a longer storage time. Additionally, legumes with a cloudy, dusty appearing surface might indicate the presence of mold. Use a wide variety of legumes. Many supermarkets and health food stores stock a wide variety of legumes — both dried, jarred and canned.

  • Black Beans are commonly found in soups and stews. They are great favorites in the Hispanic Community.
  • Black Eyed Peas are central to many Southern dishes. You will find them in Soups, stews, casseroles, salads and curried.
  • Chickpeas, or Garbanzo beans, are used throughout the Mediterranean area – from Spain and Portugal through the Middle East and North Africa – clear around to and through the Asian Sub-continent. They are the first ingredient in Hummus, and are a staple on salad bars throughout these United States. They are widely used in Soups (minestrone), Stews and Curries – as in Chole. Ground into flour they are used in baking also.
  • Fava Beans are used in stews and falafel as well as being served as a vegetable in a side dish.
  • Lima Beans are commonly used in soups, salads and casseroles. In Russia and throughout the Balkans they are prepared with kasha and served with onions. Indigenous peoples here in the United States combined them with corn for Succotash.
  • Navy Beans and Pea Beans are used in Boson Baked Beans, soups and stews.
  • Pinto Beans are central to Mexican cooking and are found in stews, soups and when refried, they are served in flour tortillas or corn tacos.
  • Red Kidney Beans are used in Rhode Island Baked Beans, Chili con Soya, Cajun cuisine, Three Bean Salad, Soups and Stews.
Any and all of these pulses or legumes can be pureed and used as part of a sandwich spread or dip.

Beans Peas and Legumes are pretty interchangeable in recipes. If you can't find a certain legume in the store, use another and simply add variety and interest to your diet. For example, pinto and black beans are good substitutes for red kidney beans, and they are great together in Tres Frijoles. Broad beans, fava, lima beans and navy beans are equally interchangeable.

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