I was shocked when I found out that Canada is, not only one of the largest producers of pulses in the world, but that we export over 80% of them internationally. Although I cook with pulses all the time, surprisingly, too many of my fellow Canucks know very little about working with them beyond throwing a can of kidney beans into a pot of chili.
Oh yeah, so, first things first.
What IS a Pulse?
Technically they are the edible seeds from the legume family. This family is comprised of a host of high fibre, high protein beauties: lentils, dry faba beans as well as chickpeas and dry peas.
There are so many reasons to add more pulses to your meal planning. They are low on the glycemic index, therefore they are considered a healthy carb. What’s more, they are low fat, high in fibre and protein and are, obviously a vital part of a heart-healthy diet. For example – adding just a half-cup of dry beans to a dish can add 9 more grams of plant-based protein and fibre to your plate! It’s important to realize that a high fibre diet has been associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Pulses are also a low cost, high yield product, especially if you buy them dried and cook them yourself. Every cup of dried beans cooks up to give you about 3 cups when cooked. Lentils, in a similar fashion, increase in volume as well but a cup of dried gives you closer to 2 1/2 cups of cooked.
Explore the World with Pulses
There are so many delicious ways to prepare pulses that extend beyond your mom’s Baked Beans and Chili though. Oddly enough, despite being a country that produces a huge share of the world’s pulses, we don’t really cook with them enough.
Name any other national cuisine and you will find them, front and centre. Italian food, Mexican, Spanish, French and South Asian diets are absolutely chock full of a huge variety of pulses from black beans and white beans to split peas and red lentils. Pulses can be as simple as a humble dal or a hearty cassoulet. They can also be an important component found in the fanciest of fine dining kitchens. There is always, without a doubt, a place for these powerhouses.
And when you’re at the store shopping for beans, look for the Product of Canada Label.
Love your Heart- Love Beans
We asked Chef Renée Lavallée, season 7 contestant on Top Chef Canada and regular judge on Wall of Chefs, to share a couple of her favourite bean-based recipes with us so we could pass them along to you. You can also check out her YouTube channel, The Canteen Cooks (named after her award-winning Dartmouth restaurant, The Canteen on Portland), for lots of great recipes and cooking tips.
After perusing some of the recipes she has developed for the Love Canadian Beans campaign, Libby and I decided to make two very different recipes although they make use of the same type of bean.
I made Chef Renée’s White Bean, Halloumi & Roasted Tomato Toast, a simple, delicious meal you can whip up in a snap using canned white kidney beans. Serve with a big salad and you have a nice, light meal.
Libby chose the Chef’s Seared Scallops on White Bean Ragout – also using canned white kidney beans, however, you end up with a meal fancy enough for a dinner party.
White Bean, Halloumi & Roasted Tomato Toast
1 pkg of halloumi cheese, sliced into 6 slices
2 thick slices sourdough bread
2 cups canned white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 cloves garlic
1-pint grape tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Zest from 1 lemon
Pre-heat oven to 425F
Place tomatoes, garlic and olive oil in a pan and roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Pull out and set aside.
Toast sourdough in a toaster, or, for added flavour, butter both sides of the bread and brown in a skillet, toasting both sides until golden.
Place beans in a bowl and add 1/2 of the roasted tomatoes, garlic and parsley, mashing gently with a fork.
Add lemon zest and check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Place toasted bread on a plate and top each with half the halloumi. Spoon half the bean and tomato mix onto each toast and add a few more of the roasted tomatoes. Finish with some of the oil from the roasted tomatoes.
Seared Scallops on White Bean Ragout
White Bean Ragout Ingredients:
2 x 450ml can of white kidney beans
1 tbsp butter; salted
1 tbsp olive oil
3 slices prosciutto; thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves; thinly sliced
2 oranges; juice & zest
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1tbsp fresh-picked thyme
Cook prosciutto and garlic in a heavy-bottomed pot braising with oil and butter. Add beans with their liquid and orange juice. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add mustard, thyme, and zest. Season to taste.
Salsa Verde Ingredients:
½ cup capers
2 tbsp. Dijon
1 bunch mint
1 bunch basil
1 bunch parsley
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp chili flakes
1 ½ cup canola oil
1tbsp sherry vinegar
Place all ingredients in a blender except oil; puree and add the oil. Finish with sherry vinegar and season to taste. Set aside.
Pickled Mustard Seed Ingredients:
1 cup Yellow Mustard Seed
¾ cups water
1 cup white rice vinegar
¾ cups Mirin
½ cup white sugar
1tbsp Kosher salt
Combine mustard seeds, water, vinegar, Mirin, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Stir frequently until mustard seeds are cooked and liquid is syrupy. ** These keep in the fridge for up to 2 months; are great on sandwiches & soups too!**
Citrus Salad Ingredients:
1 shallot; thinly sliced rounds
2 oranges; segmented and then juiced
1 lemon; segmented and then juiced
1 cup parsley; finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
Soak sliced shallot rounds in cold water to take out the bitterness. Mix citrus segments with their juice, olive and parsley; add shallot. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.
20 x 10/20 scallops; cleaned and dried off
Heat a heavy-bottomed non-stick pan and add a drop of oil. Once pan is very hot, season the scallops with salt and place in pan. Sear on one side for 1 minute, flip and sear for another minute. Take out of pan and let dry on a paper towel.
Place a spoonful of beans in a shallow bowl. Place a spoonful of citrus salad and arrange the scallops on top. Add a few dollops of salsa verde and pickled mustard seed. Garnish with either fresh herbs or frizzled leeks.
Hungry for more? Find more delicious Canadian bean recipes at LoveCanadianBeans.ca
This post has been sponsored by Pulse Canada. Photo of Chef Renée Lavallée courtesy Chef Renée Lavallée. All recipes by Chef Renée Lavallée.