Tag Archive for Pulses

Falafel Sandwich


This must be the best falafel sandwich ever. Naan, spicy hummus, tzatziki, roasted paprika, roasted courgette, mixed sprouts and falafel balls. Lovely!

Italian Soup

Weird but true: parmesan rinds give a wonderful flavour to soup. You can hoard parmesan rinds the whole year (store them in a resealable bag in the freezer) and finally make something like this. But if you can’t wait this long, don’t have a freezer, or will certainly forget those rinds in your freezer, you can easily add them to a “normal” recipe to perk it up.
I’m not sure how Italian this recipe really is, but it is inspired on loads of Italian recipes I’ve seen, and it gives me an Italian vibe. Because of the beans and barley it is a meal in itself, and I would describe the flavour as robust and savoury. The amounts of the ingredients are not that important, so I don’t give measurements in the recipe. Just do what you think is right, that is what I did too, and that is why I’ve got no clue how much I used from everything.

Italian Soup

Italian Soup

olive oil
pancetta, cubed/sliced
onion, cubed
carrot, cubed
celery, cubed
garlic, sliced
a few parmesan rinds
stock cubes
some sprigs of thyme
a few bay leafs

pearl barley (small handful per person)
can of cannellini beans (a small one is enough for 2 people)
chopped flat-leaf parsley
shavings of parmesan

Heat a large pan with a glug of olive oil. Add the pancetta, sweat for a bit. Then add the onion, cook until translucent. Add carrot and celery, cook until slightly soft and possibly a bit caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer, taking care not to burn it.
Add water, the parmesan rinds, stock cubes, thyme and bay, and leave to simmer for at least half an hour.
Add the pearl barley and cook until soft. Add the cannellini beans and warm trough. Serve, garnished with the parsley and parmesan shavings.

Chicken Dhansak

I love curry, but unfortunately, most of them are quite elaborate to cook. This recipe is perfect for the days you fancy a curry, but don’t have the time to spend much time in the kitchen. It is a satisfying, flavoursome and healthy dish. If you like it more spicy, add more garam masala and chilli powder; if you are not into spicy food, omit the chilli powder.

Chicken Dhansak

Chicken dhansak (serves 4)
From BBC Food

1 tsp coconut oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6-8 chicken thighs, boned and skinned
2 garlic cloves, crushed
20 g ginger, finely grated
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
400 g tin chopped tomatoes
600 ml chicken stock, made with 1 chicken stock cube
100 g dried red split lentils, rinsed and drained
2 bay leaves
200 g brown rice
Optional, to serve: cucumber, plain yoghurt and chopped coriander

Add the oil to saucepan or sauté pan and place over a medium heat. Add the onions, cook for five minutes, stirring regularly, until softened and very lightly browned.
Cut the chicken thighs in half and add to the pan. Cook for two minutes, turning occasionally. Stir in the garlic, ginger, garam masala and chilli powder and cook for a few seconds, stirring constantly.
Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, lentils and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then cover loosely with a lid and simmer gently for 35 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the lentils have completely broken down. Stir occasionally. Remove the lid for the last 10 minutes of cooking time, stirring regularly so the lentils don’t stick, to thicken the sauce a bit.
About 45 minutes before the curry is ready, cook the rice according to the instructions on the package.
Season the curry to taste. Serve with the rice, cucumber; top with yoghurt and sprinkle with coriander.

Celeriac-bean mash

Celeriac is often combined with potato to make a mash. In my opinion, the trouble with that is that it gets a weird texture, and the flavour is not that good as well. I prefer my celeriac raw, or in soup. But then I found an alternative recipe for celeriac mash in the allerhande magazine, with a solution I never thought of for the mash texture: it uses beans. They also add a nice, earthy flavour to the mash and make it more filling.
Using beans instead of potato also makes it possible to stick a blender in it to make a smooth purée (doing that with potato will give you glue). If you like a coarser mash, just use a potato masher instead.
Because it contains both a vegetable and a pulse, it makes a nice 2-in-1 side-dish. It is delicious with all kinds of roast meats, or with a topping of sautéed mushrooms as a vegetarian/vegan alternative (see note for an Italian variation/vegan version of this mash).

Celeriac-bean mash (serves 4)
1 kg celeriac
2 cans of cannellini beans (400 g can, 185 g without the liquid; you can use other white beans)
25 g butter
100 ml milk (more or less)
salt and pepper
20 g flat-leave parsley, chopped

Peel the celeriac, then rinse to make sure that no dirt is left. Cut into chunks, place in a pan with a little water and cook until done (about 15 minutes).
Add the beans and the butter, mash, and add milk until you reached your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, and mix through the parsley.

Note: to make this dish vegan, don’t use butter and milk, but use a nice glug of olive oil instead. And use rosemary or sage instead of the parsley to give it an Italian touch, which combines well with the olive oil.

Dutch food: bean soup

Bean soup is a traditional Dutch full-meal soup, similar to pea soup. Because the original is quite heavy and wintery, and because it would be a bit boring to put a recipe online that is so similar to one that I already have on this website, I decided to jazz it up with some spices and some roasted red paprika’s to make it more summery. The recipe is a cross between goulash soup and a Serbian bean soup that I found in a cookbook. Normally bean soup is made with brown beans, but I’m not completely sure that those are available abroad, or how they are called abroad. Sometimes white beans are used as well, I used the borlotti beans that I had leftover in my cupboard, but I think you could use any bean (or even lentils or chickpeas) you like.

Bean Soup

Bean soup (serves 4-6)
250 g dried beans
olive oil
100 g of smoked bacon, cubes
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tin (70 g) tomato purée
2 tsp sambal badjak
1 L water
2 beef stock cubes
2-3 bay leaves
6 cloves
2 juniper berries
3 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of majoram (or oregano)
1 tsp pimenton de la vera dulce

2 red paprika’s

Soak the beans: place them in a large bowl and cover with water generously. Leave to soak for 24 hours.
Heat a large Dutch oven with a splash of olive oil. Add the bacon and onion, until the bacon releases its fat and the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, fry for another minute. Add the tomato purée and sambal, fry for a few minutes to de-acidify and release the flavours.
Throw away the soaking liquid from the beans and rinse them. Add them to the pan together with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and cook for at least 1 hour, but preferably longer. I simmered mine for 3 hours. Stir occasionally, to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Slice the red paprika’s in strips and grill them in a hot skillet. Add to the soup at the end of cooking time.
Serve immediately, or cool down (keeps for a few days in the fridge or a few months in the freezer).

Note: Beans contain a toxic substance (phytohaemagglutinin), therefore you need to soak them for at least 5 hours, discard the soaking liquid, and boil them for at least 30 minutes at 100C. This means that the toxin is not deactivated when you prepare beans in a slow cooker (which typically only reaches a temperature of 80C). Canned beans can be eaten directly, as they already have been processed this way.

Chickpea stew with chorizo

A delicious chickpea, tomato and spinach stew flavoured with chorizo and spices. It is warming, spicy and full of bold flavours. Serve with crusty bread to soak up all the juices. I expect this to be a great vegetarian/vegan dish as well: don’t use the chorizo, use a flavoursome vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, and add a bit more of the spices for extra flavour. This dish is also perfect to feed a crowd and/or to prepare in advance (make the sauce in advance, add the chickpeas and spinach when you reheat the sauce just before serving).

Chickpea Chorizo Stew

Chickpea stew with chorizo (serves 4)
Adapted from Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food

1 tbsp olive oil
200 g chorizo, in chuncks
2 onions, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, minced very finely
2 red chillies, chopped*
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 can chopped tomatoes (400 g)
1 chicken stock cube
2 cans chickpeas, drained (260 g drained weight each)
400 g spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan (like a Dutch oven). Add the chorizo and fry until it starts to release its fat. Add the oninons and fry until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and chillies, fry for another 2-3 minutes (keep stirring to prevent it from burning). Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, ground cumin and smoked paprika and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes, crumble the stock cube over and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. It should reduce and thicken a bit, but add a splash of water when this happens too fast or too much.
Add the chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes. Then stir through the spinach (it should just be wilted). Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately with some crusty bread.

* Adjust this according to your tolerance and the spiciness of your chillies. I substituted the fresh chillies with 1/2 tbsp sambal badjak.

Lentil salad with butternut squash and feta

This spicy, hearty salad is perfect as warming meal on a cold autumn day, so it is perfect for the weather in the Netherlands at the moment. It is winter, but with all the rain, moderate temperatures and storm it seems autumn. It is a delicious, vegetarian main, but also delicious with a bit of fish, chicken or meat on the side (I served it with a little bit of fried salmon). You can eat it warm or cold, and it is sturdy enough to take the leftovers with you for lunch the next day.

Lentil Squash Salad

Lentil salad with butternut squash and feta (serves 3 persons as a main)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup black lentils
6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (from about a 2-pound squash)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp pimenton de la vera dulce
1/2 tsp pimenton de la vera picante
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus additional to taste
salt and pepper
Optional: roasted seeds from your butternut squash

Preheat oven to 200C. Toss squash cubes with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet or oven dish and roast 20 minutes. Flip pieces and roast for another, until tender and browned.
Meanwhile, cook lentils in boiling water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes (taste them earlier, because the cooking time of lentils varies greatly).
Combine lentils, squash, any oil you can scrape from the baking sheet, half of the feta, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper and extra vinegar, if desired. Divide among plates and sprinkle with the remaining feta.

Note: to make this recipe truly vegetarian, make sure you use a feta (or similar white cheese) that is suitable for vegetarians (i.e. does not contain animal derived rennet).

Lentil-potato salad

I often have a texture issue with pulses. They often are very mealy and mushy and icky. Part of that can be remedied by using the right pulses. The only lentil that works for me in non-soup/dhal dishes (for which I prefer orange lentils) is the black beluga lentil, because it stays whole during cooking and doesn’t get all mushy and starchy. Some people claim the same of puy lentils, but I really didn’t like those, so I stick with these. The other part of the remedy is making the correct dish. A bowl of plain lentils is boring, it needs something extra. This salad succeeds in that brilliantly, the creamy potato and sharp and tangy dressing complement the lentils perfectly, making this a delicious dish.

The temperature of this salad is kind of in between. The original recipe calls it “warm” and makes sure to keep the potato and lentils warm, but I don’t think that is necessary. Just make sure that your lentils and potatoes and dressing are ready at about the same time, mix them together and serve immediately. Also at room temperature I think this salad is lovely. The only things that don’t work are hot, and fridge-cold.

This salad is a delicious side with about anything. We ate it with a piece of salmon fillet, but it would also be delicious with roast chicken, pork chops or sausage. As with most things, a fried or poached egg on top is delicious; or chop some hard boiled eggs and stir them through, making it a stand-alone dish. It is also delicious as lunch, in that case store the dressing separate from the rest to prevent sogginess and making it possible to reheat the lentils and potato. It should keep for about 5 days in the fridge.

Lentil-Potato Salad (serves 4-6)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 large shallot, halved
1 clove garlic, crushed then halved
4 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry black lentils
salt and pepper

500 g baby potatoes, halved

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons sour gherkins, chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper

Cook lentils. Pick over and rinse lentils. Place them in a small/medium pan with the halved shallot, crushed garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, some salt, some pepper and 4 cups of water. Simmer the lentils over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm-tender. Check earlier than that, because some lentils cook faster than others. Drain and discard shallot, garlic, thyme and bay leaf.
Meanwhile, cook potatoes. In a separate pan, cover potatoes with 3 cm cold water. Set timer for 15 minutes, then bring potatoes to a simmer. When the timer rings, they should be easily pierced with a toothpick or knife. Again, check earlier than the 15 minutes, because different kinds of potatoes cook faster than others. Drain.
Make the dressing. Place the chopped shallot and red wine vinegar in the bottom of a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in minced garlic, mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil. Stir in chopped gherkin and parsley.
Assemble salad. Place potatoes in serving bowl. Add lentils, dressing and combine. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Gram crepes with salmon

I’ve had a bag of gram flour in my pantry for quite some time now. It was a present, and I did not have any clue what to do with it. Luckily, nowadays you can find about anything on the internet. So that is how I found out that gram flour is also known as chickpea flour or as besan, and is widely used in Indian cooking, but also in some parts of France and Italy to make kind of a crepe. I decided to give the crepes a try.

The crepes worked out great, but I wouldn’t call them crepes. Crepes you can roll very easily, they are flexible, but these crepes are quite firm and when you bend them, they will break. So I didn’t roll for this dish, I stacked. The crepes are tender and have a mellow chickpea flavour, that matches well with all kind of other flavours, and you can also add herbs and spices to the batter. In this case I left the crepes plain and combined them with cream cheese, lemon, dill, lettuce, cucumber and smoked salmon. A delicious lunch!

Gram Crepes with Salmon

Gram crepes (about 4)

140 gram gram flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oil (can be any kind, depending on what you serve with the crepes)
250 ml water
extra oil for frying

Mix the gram flour with the salt in a bowl. Add the oil, then slowly add the water while mixing, to form a smooth and quite runny batter. If it is too thick, it is difficult to bake nice thin crepes. Set aside 15 minutes.
Place a frying pan on medium heat, drizzle a little oil in it and spread out over the bottom of the pan. Stir the batter and pour a ladle in the frying pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to spread out the batter. Cook about 3 minutes, then turn over and bake for about 1 minute. Repeat the process for the remaining batter. Keep warm between two plates and serve warm or at room temperature.

Carrot-lentil soup

Lentil soup is a favourite in our house, but as it goes with all favourite recipes, it has changed a bit since I started making it. Nowadays, I serve the soup as it is, I don’t add stuff like quinoa or chicken, and I don’t serve naan with it, because it really doesn’t need it. I also don’t roast the spices in a separate pan any more, I just add them to the vegetables. I don’t soak my lentils, because they cook in 30 minutes even without soaking. I use a teaspoon of sambal badjak instead of the chili powder and I also add 1/2 tsp garam masala. And I use a drop of oil, instead of the butter, because you don’t need a lot of fat to bake everything in (the golden bits that get stuck in the pan will give extra flavour) and you will not taste the difference anyway.
But sometimes it is not possible to use all the different veggies, basically because you cannot buy them in small amounts and will not finish them before they spoil. Or you have something left over that is on the brink of spoiling. Or both, as in my case. I had a large carrot that desperately needed to be used up, so I made the lentil soup into a very delicious carrot-lentil soup, with slightly different spices than the standard lentil soup.

Carrot-lentil soup

Lentil soup (2 big bowls)

1 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped (about 500 gram)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp sambal badjak
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp curry powder
3 cardamom pods
2 stock cubes (I usually use vegetable)
1 cup yellow or orange lentils
juice of half a lemon
salt, pepper, chili powder

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, cook until soft and translucent. Then add the carrot, cook until slightly caramelized. Add the ginger and garlic, sambal and all the spices, cook until fragrant. Add the stock cubes, lentils and enough water to cover. Cook the soup for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft. Blend, pour through a sieve and press all the liquid from the solids in the sieve. Add the lemon juice and extra water if the soup is too thick. Taste and add extra seasoning (salt, pepper, chili powder) if necessary. Serve hot.