Autumn is a lovely time of the year to start bringing in some lentils and beans into your meals. They are nourishing, warming and versatile so suit many dishes during the mild days and cooler nights. Lentils and beans can be added to any salads, as well as soups, casseroles, slow cooked dishes and even baking! 

How to prepare and cook with dry whole legumes is definitely one of our most frequently asked questions by our Honest to Goodness family of customers. So we thought a quick legume how to prepare and cook guide would be a great way to bring in Autumn this year!

What are legumes?
Legumes are plants from any bean, pea or lentil. They are among our most nutritious plant foods; high in protein, B-complex vitamins, iron, potassium, and other minerals. Check out our whole range of organic & natural legumes here!

Why should you eat legumes

  • Excellent source of protein
  • Natural source fibre
  • Low in fat
  • No cholesterol
  • Healthy substitute to meat for vegetarians
  • A good source of phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and selenium.
  • Rich in Antioxidants
  • Low GI

Legumes are complex carbohydrates which are slowly digested and absorbed. The slow release of glucose and energy from legumes is beneficial inregulating blood glucose levels. A diet rich in legumes has shown to help reduce blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure and regulate bowel function.

Why should you soak legumes?
Dried beans, peas and lentils require soaking in room-temperature water to rehydrate them before cooking, and cook evenly and completely. This allows for shorter cooking times, and that preserves the most nutrients, so you get the benefits of all the proteins, vitamins and minerals in the beans and maximize their food value.

Soaking legumes has also shown to minimize their gas, by removing the indigestible complex sugars (oligosaccharides) from the outer coating of the beans.  Note: split peas or beans do not require soaking.

How to reduce gas from legumes? Add a piece of seaweed or kombu to the soaking water or while cooking and this further prevents any of those nasty gas effects from legumes!

How to prepare legumes?
In a large bowl or pot, cover your legumes with room-temperature water. Cover and leave out on the bench for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

If you a low on time and just need to soften your legumes for cooking, try this quick soak method. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add you legumes (so they are just covered), and return to boil for 2-3 minutes. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

Cooking legumes
After soaking, rinse your legumes thoroughly. Return to their pot and cover with three times their volume of water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer gently stirring occasionally until tender. Cooking time depends on the bean but around 45 minutes is usual. Add more water if necessary so the beans are always covered.

Types of legumes
For a list on the different kinds of beans, peas and lentils which we sell and their common culinary uses, check out our Legume Learn page here.

Legume Recipe & Serving Ideas
Here are some of our most popular recipes using a range of different lentils, beans and peas, enjoy!

Organic Chickpea & Lentil Salad
Organic Beans - Mexican Style
Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with French Green Lentils
Black Bean Chocolate Chilli Cranberry Cookies