Pulses are the name for a group of foods made up of beans, lentils and peas.
They are a cheap, low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals and iron.
A single cooked portion of pulses counts towards one portion of fruit & vegetables. We should all be eating more of them!
Pulses are both versatile and nutritious, but they have a bad reputation for being boring, mushy and not very attractive looking. But with some simple recipes up your sleeves and knowledge of proper cooking techniques, pulses will become a staple in any diet.
Pulses can be bought dried or pre-cooked in tins or sachets. Dried pulses are better value for money, but they need time to be cooked. Dried pulses have an extremely long shelf life of up to a year or more. Cooked or open tins of pulses should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Dried beans need to be soaked overnight. This reduces the overall cooking time and helps the beans keep their shape whilst cooking.
For all dried pulses, make sure you rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear before cooking.
A Fool-Proof Way to Cook Pulses
The following cooking method applies to most dried pulses.
- Wash the pulses thoroughly until the water runs clear. This might take up to 10 rounds of washing.
- Drain the pulses and add to a saucepan. Cover with water (see table for water ratios).
- Bring to a rapid boil and then turn the heat down to the lowest setting, allowing the pulses to simmer.
- Cook covered until the pulses are tender. The total cooking time depends on the type of pulses.
Then add to salads, soups, stews, curries, shepherd’s pie, bolognese and chillies to bulk up recipes and make meat go further. Try this Green Lentil and Cherry Tomato recipe for a healthy and easy lunch idea.
Cooking Times and Water Ratios for Pulses
*make sure you boil these pulses thoroughly to remove the toxins.