Legumes Are Not Just for Vegetarians

LegumesNutrition that pleases a discerning palate

You’ll always want to make sure when you make your catering choices to have options for vegetarians and vegans. When you select legumes, you may be making smart, healthy choices for all your guests. Legumes are considered vegetables by some, but they also include protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. They add a wonderful texture to any dish and well as nutrition. They can present a perfect little culinary package.

Here are five legumes you should know and appreciate:

Black beans—You’ll hardly encounter a Latin American menu with the inclusion of black beans, also known as turtle beans. Frequently paired with rice, black beans are also used to flavor soups and stews. They’re also combined with corn to make burgers, pico de gallo, and vegetarian chili.

Black-eyed peas—Black-eyed peas are also known as cowpeas. They are used frequently in Southern dishes, including fritters and casseroles. You can also use them in salads and salsas. Many restaurant and home chefs prepare a New Year’s Day Soup with black-eyed peas. Add ham, chopped tomatoes, garlic powder, diced onions, and salt and pepper to taste.

Kidney beans—Red kidney beans are a typical choice for chilis. They also enhance the flavor of stews, summertime bean salads, and rice dishes. Kidney beans are also the bean of choice for baked beans, mixed with sausage perhaps, or with molasses.

Chickpeas—Chickpeas, also called garbanzo or ceci beans appeal to many ethnic palates, including Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Iberian, and Indian. You’ll find chickpeas in soups (like minestrone), hummus and falafels, casseroles, and dishes like chana masala. Chickpeas are also a traditional food to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim and to celebrate an engagement. They’re also excellent (and crunchy) simply roasted when tossed with your favorite spices.

Lentils—Lentils are a staple in many cuisines, including Indian, German, and Italian. In fact, lentil soup on New Year’s Eve is a custom in some places. Lentils come in green and red varieties. They are often combined with ham or sausage for stews or soups. Some chefs like to add a lentil side dish to seafood like seared ahi tuna.

Fresh, dried, and canned varieties of legumes

Dried beans need some preparation before you can cook with them. They must be sorted, rinsed, and soaked to rehydrate them. Most recipes will ask that you sort and rinse lentils before cooking, too. Canned beans and chickpeas carry a fair amount of sodium. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly before use.

Start your New Year’s off right with the legume of your choice!