Sometimes out here in the middle of the bush, food orders go awry. Either items aren’t delivered at all or the oddest ingredients are sent as substitutes. In these cases, “’n boer maak ‘n plan” quickly becomes your mantra and you attempt to carry on as if everything is running smoothly. On such days, legumes become the heroes of the kitchen, making it easy to bulk up meals.
So what’s a legume? The name isn’t really appealing and they don’t outdo other ingredients in the colour department, but they’re a good source of fibre, protein, iron and vitamins. There are many kinds, but the ones most commonly eaten are beans, lentils and chickpeas. Here are 4 simple things to try:
- If you don’t have enough mince, use brown tinned lentils to bulk up the meal. They won’t really change the taste of the meal and they “disappear” in the mince. It’s a great way to get kiddies to eat them! Simply brown your mince, then add the lentils and continue with the recipe as usual.
- Add dried, soaked red lentils to tomato-based stews, curries and soups. They match the colour, they cook as the dish is simmering so there’s no need to prepare them separately, and they add some “substance” to the dish.
- Add tinned chickpeas to potjies or mash them into your mashed potato or butternut. They don’t have an overwhelming flavour and so won’t affect the taste you’re actually after. Or place them in a blender with a little yoghurt and coriander, and just like that you have a hummus-type dip.
- Beans are a great addition to roast veggies when stock is dwindling. Roast your veggies as usual, then 15 minutes before the end, add your choice of beans.
Remember to soak and rinse dried legumes for a couple of hours before you use them. If you, like most people, are looking for the convenient option, tinned versions are perfectly alright to use – just rinse and drain them thoroughly before adding them to the meal.