Top Ten Beans & Pulses
Bean is a common name for large plant seeds used for animal and human food. Beans contain significant amounts of fibre, protein, complex carbohydrates, folate and iron and are generally lower in calories than meat. They often used to be relegated to the back of the larder and referred to as “poor man’s meat” but we are now learning from vegetarians that prepared and flavoured properly delicious meals can be produced using beans which are also healthy.
- Butter Beans – Large creamy coloured with a soft, floury texture when cooked. Make a great vegetarian pate, mixed bean salad or are good in a rich, wintry stew.
- Haricot Beans – Small, oval, plump and creamy white with a mild flavour and smooth buttery texture. In the US they are known as Navy Beans and are the main ingredient in Boston Baked Beans and most commercially made baked beans in this country too. They absorb other aromas and flavours easily making them ideal for many recipes including bean purees.
- Borlotti Beans - A variety of Kidney Bean – a large, plump bean that is pinkish-brown in colour with reddish brown streaks widely used in Italian cooking with a sweetish flavour and smooth, creamy texture. They work well in salads and casseroles but the dried variety need soaking before cooking.
- Cannellini Beans – Small, white, kidney shaped beans good for using in salads and casseroles. The dried variety need to be soaked before using.
- Mung Beans – Tiny, tender, slightly sweet beans that are usually green but can be black or yellow. Add them to soups, salads and casseroles and are widely used in India to make curries.
- Kidney Beans – Reddish, Brown kidney shaped pulses with soft, creamy flesh available in cans as well as dried. Dried beans need careful cooking as they contain toxins on their outer skin which need to be rendered harmless by boiling. Good in mixed bean salads, stews and of course chilli con carne and rice and peas!
- Black-Eyed Beans – Small, creamy flavoured beans with a black “scar” where they were joined to the pod. Much used in American and African cooking.
- Pinto Beans – Pinto Beans are the original ingredients of Mexican refried beans. This orange-pink coloured bean with rust coloured specks grows across Latin America and the American South West.
- Flageolot Beans – Small, creamy, pale green beans with tender skin and a fine, delicate flavour, much prized in France. They are in fact, small, young Haricot Beans that have been harvested and dried before fully ripe. Use in tomato-based or meat stews, mixed bean salads or tossed in butter to accompany roast veal or lamb.
- Aduki Beans – Small, shiny, red-brown beans with a little white thread down one side. Can be used in salads, mixed with other vegetables and also make a good ingredient for stuffing. High in protein, vitamins and minerals, these nutty tasting beans are popular as part of a macrobiotic diet. Less mealy and slightly sweet they are often used in China and Japan in desserts, cakes and confectionery usually as a paste or flour.