Save the Planet: Eat a Bean!

So, as it turns out, 2016 has been designated International Year of Pulses by The United Nations. Well, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather at that piece of news. I mean, I eat legumes every damn day, and here it is May, and I’ve JUST heard that my jam is having a moment.

Take that, quinoa–your year was way back in 2013. I never much cared for you anyway.

Apparently, this is very good news for Canadian pulse growers, but it’s also great news for the planet and the health of its inhabitants. For one, growing pulses creates a much, much smaller carbon footprint than the production of animal protein; for another, some legumes (like lentils) produce their own nitrogen, so farmers don’t have to use fertilizer; and finally, they are one of the best sources of protein and fibre available. Indeed, eating pulses one of the best things you can do for yourself (particularly if you are pre-Diabetic or have Type 2 Diabetes because apparently they control blood glucose levels). As I’ve mentioned (likely ad nauseam), beans are brilliant, and lentils (especially red lentils) take that brilliance up a notch. They are “nutritional powerhouses.”

Pulses are simply the dried seeds of legumes (beans, peas, and lentils):

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In Indian cooking, “dhal” or “dal” is any split dried legume (yellow and green peas, lentils, etc.). I always assumed that “dhal” referred to the dish itself, which I thought was made strictly from lentils. However, dhal can be made with any type of dried split legume.

I’ve yet to meet a dhal I didn’t love, but I’ve never actually made it (likely because I assumed the dish contained curry, and I can’t deal with its lingering smell the next day).

Anyway, a Salt-Spring seed farmer, Dan Jason, has written a pulse-focused cookbook–The Power of Pulses: Saving the World with Peas, Beans, Chickpeas, Favas, and Lentils–and one of his recipes was included in a CBC article today, so I thought I’d give it a try. I had to make a couple of adaptations because 1) I had only split green peas, 2) James threw away my cilantro!!!! and 3) it’s not dairy-free. Because the peas were VERY dry, I ended up doubling the liquid and blending the whole thing a bit, but it’s VERY good!

And, yes, OF COURSE, I bought the cookbook. In fact, it’s wending its way to me (via my good friends at Amazon) as I write this post.

Green Split-Pea Dhal

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-inch piece of turmeric, minced
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp  coriander
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ¼ cup dehydrated cilantro
  • 1 ½ cups dry green split peas, rinsed and picked over
  • ⅓ cup almond milk
  • 1 TBS BTB vegetable paste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add ginger, turmeric, and garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add cumin, coriander and red chili flakes.
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Stir constantly for a  minute. Add vegetable stock and tomato and lower heat to a simmer.
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Add cilantro and split peas; bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until peas are soft. Remove from heat, add almond milk and blend with an immersion blender (if necessary…which it was because my peas were as hard as the devil’s toenail).
Top with freshly ground pepper and serve over brown basmati rice with naaan bread on the side.

The original recipe called for one teaspoon of dried turmeric, but I have a bunch of fresh, so I used a chunk, which promptly stained my knife, cutting board, and fingers. Now I know why recipes rarely call for the fresh stuff.

wp-1463426356029.jpgAnd this is after I washed my hands several times. I look like a three-pack-a-day smoker! Those little gnarly things in the background are turmeric roots (the gnarly little things in the foreground are my fingers).

Next, we have to make the naan bread, which traditionally contains beaten egg, but we’re making the vegan version of it adapted from this recipe.

Naan Bread

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the following ingredients:

  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1.5 tsp dry active yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water

Once the yeast blossoms, add:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp garlic minced garlic
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp oil

And, using the dough hook, mix until it forms a ball around the hook. Let it rise for a couple of hours.

Form the dough into golf-ball sized balls, cover, and let sit for fifteen minutes.

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Flatten out the balls into six-inch circles and grill on a hot, oiled grill until grill marks appear. Turn the naans and grill until grill marks appear on the other side.

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Aaand here’s dinner!

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And poor old Bustie had to have a bath today and, let me tell you, he is PISSED. He has an appointment for his yearly vaccinations on Wednesday, and we certainly don’t want the vet to think, “Them Irish are a shoddy lot” (which is what my Mum’s grandmother always warned her against).

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