Beans and pulses are synonymous with warm hearty soups, stews and casseroles; they also make great additions to salads.
1. MUNG BEANS
These can be cooked in the traditional way but are wonderful when sprouted, which is easily done by soaking them in water and then storing in a cloth covered jar with water. Grow to the size desired and use for stir-fries or salads.
2. BUTTER BEANS
From the broad bean family, these are larger than other beans and have a thick skin with a dense creamy texture. Very good in soups and stews and wonderful in salads with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, onions, flat leaf parsley, seasoning and a drizzle of good olive oil.
3. PUY LENTILS
There are more than 60 varieties of lentils and this is by far the most superior. Only grown in a specific area of Le Puy in France, they are renowned for flavour and colour: deep green marbled slightly with turquoise. Best braised with a good stock and vegetables.
4. CANELLINI BEANS
Known as the baby butter bean, these share the same creamy taste and are the perfect size for Minestrone soups. They are widely available and grown extensively in Italy.
5. BLACK-EYED BEANS
A pretty bean, mostly cultivated in America. It is similar to the haricot bean in taste, with a robust and almost sweet flavour making it great for soups, home made spicy beans and casseroles.
6. FLAGEOLET BEANS
These are immature beans, removed from their pod when they are very young. Mostly used in French and Italian food, they have a mild flavour.
7. RED LENTILS
These are very popular in the Middle East and are often called by the local name of Dal. They cook quickly, need no soaking and easily break up. They have a creamy taste which is great for feeding to babies and for soups and stews.
8. BLACK KIDNEY BEANS
The striking, hard tusk of these beans conceals a creamy white interior. Their sweet flavour makes them very popular in American South West style cooking.
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