Make a healthy habit of cook­ing with power-packed foods

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Fin­ger on the pulses

In my kitchen in Wanaka I have a big shelf of glass jars filled with all man­ner of grains and pulses. It looks so good, with the earthy hues of brown, green, orange, cream and ochre lined up, and lends a whole­some feel to my cook­ing space.

But there’s a lot more than win­dow dress­ing at stake here. Pretty much ev­ery day, I am delv­ing into one or an­other of these jars — a hand­ful of quinoa to cook and toss through a roasted veg­etable salad for ex­tra pro­tein, a big pour of dried split peas to slowly cook with a ham hock for a sooth­ing soup, or to sim­mer with In­dian spices and root veg­eta­bles for a sim­ple curry. Sev­eral times a week there will be a pot of lentils on the go, sim­mered with gar­lic and onion and fin­ished with pars­ley, good olive oil and a splash of sherry vine­gar as a part­ner for a con­fit duck leg, a fil­let of fish or some roasted chicken.

Many years ago, when I at­tended a res­i­den­tial cook­ing course on nu­tri­tion at the Culi­nary In­si­ti­tute of Amer­ica, just out of New York, the man­date was to cre­ate meals with 55 per cent of calo­ries com­ing from com­plex car­bo­hy­drates — whole grains (such as brown rice, bar­ley and oats), pulses (such as dried beans and peas, lentils and chick­peas) and pseudo grains (such as quinoa, buck­wheat and amaranth, which look and cook like grains but are ac­tu­ally seeds), plus starchy veg­eta­bles (such as pota­toes, sweet pota­toes, pump­kin and corn). These food sources, which are rich in fi­bre, min­er­als and vi­ta­mins, re­lease their en­ergy slowly, so you feel full and sat­is­fied.

Build­ing meals around these power-packed foods has be­come an easy habit for me. They have a long shelf-life and, with the ex­cep­tion of quinoa, they are re­ally af­ford­able. I like to cook up big batches so I can have them on hand, ei­ther in the fridge or frozen, ready to pop into a meal.

Dried grains, ce­re­als and legumes vary con­sid­er­ably in age as well as size, so the soak­ing and cook­ing times can vary from the packet in­struc­tions.

Rice, lentils, dried peas, farro and quinoa need rins­ing only be­fore cook­ing, while chick­peas and dried beans must be soaked for 6-12 hours in cold wa­ter, then drained and rinsed be­fore cook­ing in fresh wa­ter.

This week’s recipes demon­strate the ver­sa­til­ity and de­li­cious­ness of some of my favourite pulses.


Ready in 1 hour Serves 6 1 cup nat­u­ral yo­ghurt, runny 2 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp ground turmeric 1 Tbsp grated ginger 1 green chilli, de­seeded and finely chopped 3 Tbsp but­ter 4 cloves gar­lic, finely chopped 2 large onions, diced 1 tsp fen­nel seeds 5 whole car­damom pods 2 tsp tomato paste 500g pump­kin, peeled and cut into 4cm chunks 2 Tbsp corn­flour or chick­pea flour 4 toma­toes, diced 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen 2 x 400g cans chick­peas, rinsed and drained 1½ cups wa­ter 2 tsp each salt and finely ground black pep­per 1 cup raw cashews, coarsely chopped ½ cup torn co­rian­der leaves, to gar­nish Place yo­ghurt in a bowl with cumin seeds, turmeric, ginger and chilli. Mix to com­bine and set aside. In a large fry­ing pan, heat but­ter and fry gar­lic un­til just golden. Add onions, fen­nel seeds and car­damom pods and cook over medium heat un­til onions are lightly golden. Add tomato paste and pump­kin and stir over heat for 2-3 min­utes. Mix corn­flour or chick­pea flour with ½ cup wa­ter then stir into yo­ghurt mix­ture. Add this to pump­kin mix­ture, stir­ring to in­cor­po­rate, and then cook gen­tly with­out stir­ring un­til most of the liq­uid has been ab­sorbed (8-10 min­utes). Add toma­toes, peas, chick­peas, wa­ter, salt, pep­per and cashews. Sim­mer for 20-25 min­utes, stir­ring now and again un­til veg­eta­bles are ten­der and mix­ture is lightly thick­ened. Gar­nish with co­rian­der leaves.

Annabel says: I learned this lovely recipe from a chef in Jaipur. In­dian chefs tend not to use flour to pre­vent split­ting but I find it safer to use a lit­tle corn­flour or chick­pea flour to hold the yo­ghurt to­gether.


Ready in 50 mins Serves 4 2 x 800g pump­kins, such as but­ter­cup, de­seeded and quar­tered 2 Tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 1 tsp soft brown sugar 5 tsp ground cumin Salt and ground black pep­per, to taste 4 cloves gar­lic, crushed 2 onions, finely chopped 4 Tbsp tomato paste 2-3 tsp curry pow­der, to taste A pinch of cayenne pep­per (op­tional) 3 cups cooked le Puy or brown lentils, or 2 x 400g cans lentils, drained and rinsed ¾ cup veg­etable stock To gar­nish Nat­u­ral yo­ghurt, runny 2 Tbsp chopped co­rian­der leaves 2 Tbsp al­mond sliv­ers, toasted Pre­heat oven to 200C fan­bake. Place pump­kin quar­ters cut-side up on a shal­low roast­ing tray lined with bak­ing pa­per for easy clean-up. Driz­zle with a lit­tle of the oil then sprin­kle with sugar, 1 tsp of the cumin, salt and pep­per and bake un­til ten­der and golden (35-40 min­utes). While but­ter­nut or pump­kin is bak­ing, heat re­main­ing oil in a pot and cook gar­lic and onion gen­tly un­til soft­ened but not browned (8 min­utes). Add tomato paste, curry pow­der, cayenne pep­per, if us­ing, and re­main­ing cumin and stir for 1-2 min­utes. Add lentils and stock, bring to a sim­mer and cook, un­cov­ered, un­til thick­ened (about 10 min­utes). Ad­just sea­son­ings to taste. To serve, trans­fer cooked pump­kin or but­ter­nut to 4 plates and di­vide hot lentil mix­ture over the top. Driz­zle with yo­ghurt and sprin­kle with co­rian­der and al­mond sliv­ers.

Annabel says: French le Puy lentils are my favourite for dishes like this as they hold their shape and don’t get mushy. They are more ex­pen­sive than other lentils, so if pre­ferred you can use cooked brown lentils, or if you are in a rush, use canned ones.


Ready in 15 mins + cool­ing Serves 8 1 Tbsp neutral oil 1 clove gar­lic, crushed 1 tsp ground cumin A pinch of cayenne pep­per Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated 1½ cups cooked black beans or a 400g can black beans, drained and rinsed 1½ cups cooked quinoa (½ cup raw) 2 Tbsp lemon juice To serve 10 cherry toma­toes, quar­tered Flesh of 1 large av­o­cado, diced 1 spring onion, finely chopped 2 Tbsp finely chopped co­rian­der Salt and ground black pep­per, to taste 8-12 firm leaves cos or ice­berg let­tuce Heat oil in a large fry­ing pan. Add gar­lic, cumin, cayenne and lemon zest and siz­zle for about 30 se­conds. Add beans and toss over heat for 1-2 min­utes. Re­move from heat, mix in pre-cooked quinoa and lemon juice and leave to cool. When ready to serve, add toma­toes, av­o­cado, spring onion and co­rian­der. Sea­son to taste. Toss to com­bine and serve in a bowl with let­tuce cups along­side so peo­ple can help them­selves.

Annabel says: My favourite way to cook a batch of quinoa is to saute 2 finely diced shal­lots in 3 Tbsp olive oil un­til ten­der but not browned. Rinse 1 cup quinoa in a sieve un­der cold wa­ter, drain well and add to shal­lots with 1½ cups wa­ter and a good pinch of salt. Bring to a sim­mer, then cover and cook on low­est heat un­til all the wa­ter has been ab­sorbed and the quinoa has split open, re­veal­ing the germ of the ker­nel. Al­low to stand for 5 min­utes then fluff with a fork. Makes about 3 cups. Left­over cooked quinoa will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days and also freezes well.

VEG­ETABLE AND CASHEW CURRY Es­sen­tial Vol­ume Two, Sweet Treats for Ev­ery Oc­ca­sion (Annabel Lang­bein Me­dia, $65) is a beau­ti­ful com­pen­dium of Annabel’s best-ever sweet recipes and cook­ing tips. It makes a won­der­ful gift or treat for your­self, and it’s...



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