Legumes, including dried beans, peas and lentils, are nutrient-dense foods that contain complex carbohydrates, fibre, plant-based protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Cooking dried legumes from scratch is cost-effective, with one cup of dried ingredients resulting in approximately three cups cooked. However, because of their complex starches and high fibre content, legumes can be hard to digest – it is essential to prepare them by soaking and rinsing first
Soak Rinse 1 cup dried legumes in a sieve and place in a bowl. Cover with 3 cups water and add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (this will soften the legumes and release indigestible anti-nutrients into the water). Cover with a clean tea towel and soak for 12-24 hours at room temperature (for larger legumes, a 24-hour soak will improve ease of digestion; changing the water after 12 hours also helps).
Cook Tip the soaked legumes into a colander and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Pour them into a saucepan and cover with 2 cups water. Bring to a rapid boil then lower heat to a simmer and cook until soft. Never add salt when cooking legumes as it will toughen the skins. Instead, stir through ¼ teaspoon of salt per cup of dried legumes once removed from the heat. Times for cooking varies but the following is a guide: Lentils/split peas: 20-30 min. Beans (borlotti, haricot, black beans, kidney): 45-60 min. Chickpeas, fava
beans: 60-90 min.
Using a pressure cooker: You will reduce the cooking time, but, it is still necessary to soak and drain legumes first. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.
It is simple to sprout legumes and they will add a boost of raw, living food to your diet. The sprouting process unlocks nutrients that are difficult to obtain from dried legumes and increases the vitamin C content. Sprinkle sprouts over soups and salads or add to sandwiches. Most legumes can be sprouted, but mung beans, lentils and peas are commonly used. You can buy fancy sprouting devices, but a jar with a mesh lid is just as effective. It is essential to source legumes that haven’t been heat-treated as those that have may not sprout. Check with the supplier.
The following makes approximately 2 cups.
Step 1. Sprout
Place ⅓ cup lentils or mung beans or ½ cup peas or chickpeas in a 1 litre sprouting jar. Cover with 2 cups filtered water and screw on the mesh lid (or use a single layer of muslin cloth attached with a rubber band). Soak for 10-12 hours.
Step 2. Drain
Drain the water from the legumes through the mesh lid. Rinse with cold water then drain all the water away. Sit the jar upside down in a bowl and at an angle so the excess water can drain out. Cover with a tea towel to keep direct light off the sprouts.
Step 3. Rinse
Rinse every 12 hours with cold water and drain through the mesh lid. Invert the jar at an angle again. Over the next 3-4 days the legumes will begin to sprout. Once the sprout tail is at least 10mm long they are ready. Tip into an airtight container and store in the fridge. Consume within 5 days.
Now you have your beautiful legumes ready to go – try one of these delicious spring recipes.