Chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans, lentils (of many colourful varieties), cranberry/Borlotti beans, lima beans, and edamame. If my recent trip to Kalustyan’s is any indication, I will also begin cooking with Anasazi beans, Appaloosa beans, Calypso beans, Christmas Lima beans, Jackson Wonder beans, Jumbo Lupini, Macedonian Tetovac, Rattlesnake beans, Scarlet Runner beans, Spanish Tolosana (Prince beans), Tepari beans, and my favourite (purely by name at this point) Tongues of Fire beans!
Just as Aleppo chili flakes revolutionized my cooking, cooking dry beans from scratch has also been eye-opening. They taste better. They have a better texture. You can flavour them as they cook, or leave them as a blank canvas. They are healthier. They are cheaper. And I bet you, Tongues of Fire beans cannot be found canned. (Aside, any clue where to buy dried heirloom beans in Toronto/Canada? I am envious of Americans and their Rancho Gordo heirloom bean supply)
Canned beans are definitely more convenient, and I do not poo-poo the canned variety in the slightest; canned beans are better than no beans at all. I even have canned beans stashed away for my emergency bean needs.😉
For the less bean-savvy, lentils are great because they cook up quickly. They don’t require any pre-soaking, so everything can come together once the beans are finished cooking in 20-30 minutes.
I went with an orange theme for these sweet-and-sour lentils. Adapted from Mama’s Minutia, who in turn, adapted it from the More-with-Less Cookbook, these lentils have a sweet tang with a sour acidity. For my veggies, I pulled out the orange in my fridge: carrots and an orange bell pepper. It tasted good with a pinch of cloves, but then I added a heavy dusting of Vietnamese cinnamon, and this was sublime. Paired with arugula for a touch of greenery and its peppery bite, this was a great meal. Full of beans, yet again.
Sweet and Sour Lentils with Carrot and Bell Pepper over Arugula
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
2.5 cups vegetable broth or water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced bell pepper
1/4 cup agave nectar, maple syrup, or brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup mango juice (or other fruit juice – apple, pineapple, etc)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
8 cups arugula
1. Simmer the lentils and bay leaf in the broth for 20-30 minutes, or until tender.
2. In a separate frypan, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for 2-3 minutes. Add in carrots and saute another 2 minutes. Add in bell pepper and saute until all vegetables are soft, but still with a bit of bite.
3. Meanwhile, combine the maple syrup, vinegar, juice, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Mix to combine and set aside.
4. Once the vegetables reach your desired consistency, deglaze your pan with the dressing. Heat through for 30 seconds.
5. When the lentils are ready, remove the bay leaf. Add to the vegetables and heat through, taste to correct seasonings, and serve over arugula or rice/quinoa/etc.