Love Those Legumes

Island Epicure


Beans, lentils, and peanuts are all classed as legumes. They all contain protein, but require some grain to present a food with complete protein. Some people totally refuse beans, thinking they all cause gas. In truth, only canned beans cause gas. At our house we usually start with bulk dry beans, soak them overnight, drain and rinse them, then cook them for two hours.   For fast cooking, the legume we choose is lentils. They require no soaking and cook in  about 35 minutes.

When we visited Korea in about 1983, son Steve and I ate bean jam buns for our breakfast every morning, washing it down with barley tea.  A Korean bun with bean jam baked in the middle of it is delicious, yields complete protein, and would not dream of giving anyone gas. The jam is made from well cooked adzuki beans, pureed and  sweetened with, I think, brown sugar. The bun that surrounds the jam seems to be made with barley flour which is lower in gluten than wheat flour. You can create bean jam buns using any bun recipe and putting bean jam in the center of your buns before baking them.

To make bean jam,  soak 1 cup of adzuki beans overnight. The next day, drain and rinse them. Put them in a 6-cup saucepan and add water to cover them. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook the beans 35 minutes.   Stick a pin in one. It should go in easily, showing that the beans are done. Add salt, stir gently, and  puree them. Stir in brown coconut sugar (1/3 as much glucose as cane sugar) to your taste.

Any dried beans cooked the above way are most unlikely to give you gas. Nutritionally, they provide protein, fiber, and iron as well as B vitamins. Bean protein is not complete but the bean jam and the bun together do give you complete protein. Canned beans of any kind will give you gas because their producer does  neither presoaking nor long slow cooking.

Another legume, the lentil, requires no soaking and cooks in 30 to 45 minutes in a covered kettle. Our neighbors in Crete in the mid 1970s ate lentils or large white beans nearly every day. They also ate octopus and squid. The butcher shop at Chersonissas was open only on Thursdays.

Lentil Soup
4 servings

1 cup brown lentils
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 large carrot, chopped
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¾ cup tomato sauce
1 bay leaf, broken up
6 cups water
2 Tablespoons vinegar
In a stockpot, boil the lentils with the other ingredients, except the vinegar,  until everything is tender,  30 to 45 minutes. The lentils should still have their shape. This soup, eaten with thick slices of brown bread gives you a delicious meal complete protein.  To up the complete protein more we cool our soup with a dollop of low fat yogurt