Legumes – food value

Legumes – food value – includes recipes and list of common beans and their uses

Diane Hodges


What does good old American peanut butter have in common with foods as diverse as Arab puree of chickpeas, and textured vegetable protein manufactured from soybeans?

All are made with legumes, plants bearing seeds in a pod whose seams split open upon ripening.

Legumes are by no means limited to lima beans and lentils, the most commonly known of the bunch. More than 10,000 species are cultivated the world over. They grow on trees, shrubs and desert plants.

Legumes are a staple in Asia and Mediterranean countries where they are the main source of protein. Bean curd, for example, a pressed puree of soybeans, is a staple of Japanese and Chinese cooking while lentils are the principal ingredient in many Indian dishes. Legumes have other uses too. Flavorings for drinks are derived from carob and tamarind. Soybeans, not widely eaten themselves provide the basis a range of products, including high-protein soybean flour, margarine and tofu. Soybeans and peanuts also produce important oils.

Legumes, beans in particular supply iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Because they are economical and extremely nutritious, legumes often are used as a meat substitute. Peanut butter compares with red meat as a protein source but it contains little saturated fat and no cholesterol. Dry beans, peas and lentils, containing soluble fiber, may lower cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a balanced diet.

Soaking dried beans before cooking with them is important. For every pound of dry beans, any variety, use 10 cups of hot water. Remember, beans will rehydrate to at least twice their dry size, so be sure to start with a large enough pot. Boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour, but preferably four hours or more. The longer soaking time will allow a greater amount of gas-causing properties to dissolve in the water, so the beans are more easily digested. Be sure to discard the soak water.

After draining and rinsing soaked beans, put into a good-sized kettle. For every pound of beans add six cups of hot water, 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons salt substitute. Boil gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached. Simmer beans slowly. Cooking too fast can break the skins.

Fruited Bean Salad

1 1/2 cups drained, cooked or

canned Western, great

Northern or navy beans

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 small red onion, in rings

Orange Dressing

2 medium oranges, peeled and


1/2 medium cucumber, sliced

For Orange Dressing, combine 1/3 cup orange juice, 3 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp chili powder, and a dash of bottled hot pepper sauce. Combine beans, green pepper, onion and Orange Dressing. Marinate in refrigerator several hours. Add oranges and cucumber and lightly toss together. Serve on lettuce-lined plates. Makes 8 to 9 side dish servings.

South Seas Salad

With Spicy Dressing

1/2 cup unseasoned rice wine


1/4 cup peanut oil

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper


1 1/2 tsp soy sauce 1 1/2 tsp hot sauce 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

2 Tbsp lime or lemon juice

1/3 cup coarsely chopped


1 lb cooked chicken breast,

cut into 1 1/2 X 1/4-inch


2 medium cucumbers, peeled,

seeded and sliced 1/4-inch


1/4 pound snow peas, stemmed,

blanched 30 seconds

1/2 lb bean sprouts

1 3/4 cups julienned red peppers

(about 2 medium)

2 cups finely sliced red


1 cup thinly sliced green


Lettuce leaves

1/3 cup chopped peanuts

To prepare dressing, whisk together the first 8 ingredients. Dressing can be prepared 48 hours in advance. Stir in the peanuts just before serving. For salad combine chicken, cucumbers, snow peas, bean sprouts, pepper, cabbage and onions with dressing. Arrange salad on lettuce leaves sprinkle with peanuts. Makes 6 main dish servings.

Bean Confetti Salad

1 cup cooked brown rice,


1 2/3 cups drained, cooked or

canned red, pinto or pink


1/3 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup each chopped green

pepper, chopped celery

and shredded carrot

3 Tbsp each diced dill pickles

and chopped green onion

Salt substitute and pepper


Minced parsley (optional)

Dill pickle wedges, carrot


Combine rice with beans in medium salad bowl. Stir in yogurt, green pepper, celery, carrot, pickles and green onion. Season to taste with salt substitute and pepper. Refrigerate, covered, until chilled. To serve, spoon mixture onto lettuce-lined salad plate; sprinkle with minced parsley. Garnish with pickles and carrot curl. Makes about 4 servings.

Hummus (Puree

of Chickpeas)

3 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup tahini

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 cup cooked chickpeas or 1

can (8 oz) chickpeas,



Olive oil

Pita Bread, cut into wedges

Place lemon juice in a blender and gradually add tahini, stirring after each addition. Add garlic. Cover and blend. Add 1/4 cup chickpeas. Cover and blend until smooth. Add remaining chickpeas oil. Serve as a dressing with pita.

Know Your


Here are some of the more common beans and their uses:

* Baby Lima: Mild-flavored. Serve alone or in a casserole.

* Blackeye: Dry form of the popular pea. Cook with pork or chicken.

* Dark Red Kidney: The colorful salad bean.

* Garbanzo (Chickpea): Nut-like flavor. Ideal for salads and appetizers.

* Great Northern: Larger than small white or navy bean. Good for baking.

* Large Lima: Rich, buttery flavor. Cook with smoked meat or cheese.

* Light Red Kidney: Excellent in recipes calling for colored beans.

* Navy: Medium-sized white pea bean. Fine for baking and soup making.

* Pink: Great barbecue style or cooked with other spicy seasonings.

* Pinto: Popular in chili, refried beans and other Mexican dishes.

* Red: Dark red, pea-shaped. Used in any colored bean recipe.

* Small White: Firm texture holds up under long slow baking.

COPYRIGHT 1989 PRIMEDIA Intertec, a PRIMEDIA Company. All Rights Reserved.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group