Friday, February 12, 2016

The Year of the Pulse - Chickpeas Anyone?

It's official. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has formally declared that 2016 is the "International Year of Pulses." 

What exactly is a pulse? Pulses are part of the legume family. Legumes consist of dried beans and peas, lentils, soybeans, chickpeas, peanuts and fresh peas and beans.

Pulses are the subcategory of legumes, such as peas, chickpeas, lentils and dried beans that are harvested solely to eat the dry seed. In contrast, soybeans and peanuts are grown to be eaten, but they're also used to create oils such as soybean and peanut oil. 

At less than $2 per pound, they are kind to the wallet by giving you a lot of bang for your buck. Maybe the grocery bill savings will inspire you to eat more pulses!

In addition to this can't-stop-eating hummus (that has the creamy consistency of a savory mousse) here are some other suggestions for adding pulses to your meals.
  • Add chickpeas to tossed salads.
  • Add beans and lentils to vegetable soups.
  • When making soup, chili or a meat casserole, use half the amount of meat and supplement the other half with beans.
  • Make bean burgers instead of meat burgers.
  • Make fajitas using beans.
  • Use mashed beans as the base for pizza topping instead of sauce.

This is a nutritious, creamy-textured, delicious spread. Part of what makes it so delicious is tahini: an all-natural, creamy puree made of sesame seeds, which has a light, nut-like flavor. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips or crispy French bread rounds.

1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves
⅓ cup tahini paste
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Several grindings of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  1. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy. Transfer mixture to a shallow bowl; cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. 
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat. Add onions, reduce heat slightly and continue to cook onions, stirring frequently until lightly browned. Allow onions to cool. 
  3. Just before serving, top mousse with onions and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Serve immediately.