Pulses- A Rising Culinary Star

Pulse Taco lentil and chickpeas

Nowadays in our multi-cultural society, our culinary horizons   are being  broadened, and  ethnic dishes are no longer foreign offerings. Consequently the pleasure of pulses are yet again being discovered as star chefs incorporate them into their repertoires.

Pulses partner wonderfully with seasonings from every cuisine and can be part of any course of any meal. Zesty dips, hearty soups, salads tossed with a variety of ingredients from greens to meat, fish and poultry, pastas, main course stews and even cakes can all be made with assorted beans, peas and lentils.  Adding pulses to meat-containing dishes is an easy way to decrease the amounts of animal protein in recipes.

For picky eaters – kids and adults alike- start adding pulses to favourite dishes but at a slow pace. Start with small amounts and puree them for soups and sauces. For instance, puree some kidney beans or lentils and mix with a small amount of a tomato pasta sauce. Then add it back to the rest of the sauce.  Gradually increase the proportion of pulses and eventually leave them whole.

Beans, beans are good for the heart, the more you eat, the more you …
Let’s face it: beans cause flatulence for most people. This fact has given rise to many ditties such as beans, beans the musical fruit, the more you eat ….

True, their fibre content contributes to increased gas production but  you may not realize just what a  health perk that is. This is due to pulses’ prebiotic action. Prebiotic foods stimulate and promote the growth of healthy bacteria.  In other words, healthy bacteria love to ferment the fibre from pulses. They simply thrive on it.

But certain preparation techniques can minimize this as can eating them on a regular basis. For example, if you are cooking those varieties which require pre-soaking, spill out the soaking water and use fresh for cooking.  If you’re using canned products, drain first and then rinse them well under running water.  Not only will you reduce gas production but you will also lessen the sodium content significantly.

Lentils and split peas, though, do not need to be soaked in water before cooking.

Here’s an offering from chef Michael Smith, Canada’s International Year of Pulses (IYP) Ambassador.

Pulse Tacos

“Wherever we live we all do our best to make healthy choices at home but it’s a lot easier when those choices are delicious. These meatless tacos are stuffed with so much sunny southwestern flavour that no one will notice anything missing. What a great way for your family to join families around the world in a global celebration of flavour and nutrition!” says Chef Smith.

Makes 12 tacos, Serves 4 to 6

For the pulse filling
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of canola oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 heaping tablespoon (18 mL) of chili powder
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of ground cumin
1 cup (250 mL) of green lentils
A 19-ounce (540 mL) can of your favourite beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups (500 mL) of water
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of salt
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of your favourite hot sauce

For the taco toppings
A head of Bibb or iceberg lettuce
12 hard taco shells (I prefer soft corn tortillas)
A few handfuls of grated cheddar or taco blend cheese
Your favourite salsa
A large bunch of fresh cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges

Make the lentil bean filling. Splash the canola oil into a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Sauté until the vegetables soften and the spice flavours brighten, 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the lentils, beans, water, and salt. Bring the works to a slow, steady simmer. Cover tightly and continue slowly cooking until the lentils are tender, 35 minutes or so. Stir in the hot sauce.

Assemble the tacos. Fit a full leaf of lettuce into a hard taco shell. This will hold the fillings in when the hard shell inevitably breaks. Fill each taco with a heaping spoonful of the lentil bean filling. Pack with cheese, salsa, and cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges and share!

© Chef Michael Smith 2015

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Categories: Food Trends, Recipes, Tips and Tricks, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What is a Pulse, Anyway? - Pulses - May 26, 2016

    […] This luscious-looking taco may seem like regular tacos with meat and vegetables, but it’s not. This is a meatless recipe with protein-rich pulses as a meat substitute. Completed with the flavors of cheese and salsa, this nutritious taco will be irresistible even to picky-eaters. See the full recipe here: https://rosieschwartz.com/2016/01/21/pulses-a-rising-culinary-star/ […]

  2. Here Are 5 Tastefully Clever Recipes To Introduce Pulses To Picky-Eaters - Pulses - May 27, 2016

    […] This luscious-looking taco may seem like regular tacos with meat and vegetables, but it’s not. This is a meatless recipe with protein-rich pulses as a meat substitute. Completed with the flavors of cheese and salsa, this nutritious taco will be irresistible even to picky-eaters. See the full recipe here: https://rosieschwartz.com/2016/01/21/pulses-a-rising-culinary-star/ […]

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