Cool beans: Two comforting and climate friendly legume recipes

Carrot top pesto boosts the flavour of this borlotti bean stew, while also saving waste  (Tom Hunt/LegumeChef)
Carrot top pesto boosts the flavour of this borlotti bean stew, while also saving waste (Tom Hunt/LegumeChef)

Beans and legumes are often overlooked, but they’re an incredibly important part of a healthy diet.

Chef Tom Hunt is on a mission to raise awareness about the issues affecting our food system and the protection of biodiversity. He owns Poco Tapas Bar in Bristol, and has recently written a book, Eating for Pleasure, People and Planet. In partnership with LegumeChef, Hunt has created two delicious recipes that will show you just how tasty beans and legumes can be.

“I’m a lover of legumes for all the nutrients they provide to us and the soilc,” says Hunt. “Exploring plant diversity is fun, fascinating and leads to new taste experiences. Look closely and you’ll discover the obscure beauty of different individual pulses, each more alien than the next – from vivid pink borlotti beans to variegated kidney beans and green speckled lentils.”

Both recipes are perfect for the cooler months ahead – so why not give them a try? You might just find yourself a new favourite dish.

Borlotti bean stew with carrot top pesto

“Cooking your own beans, pulses or grains from scratch is one of the easiest, rewarding, cost-effective, and nutritious things that you can do for yourself and for your diet,” says Hunt. “I soak and batch-cook several varieties on a lazy Sunday, creating a fridge full of ready-to-go ingredients that can be converted into meals in minutes. Setting them up to soak in the morning takes less than a minute and so does putting them on to cook in the evening. If you do cook your own pulses, I’d recommend buying a pressure cooker so you can halve cooking times.

“Carrot top pesto boosts the flavour of this recipe whilst saving waste. Keep carrot tops fresh by removing them from the bunch of carrots and storing them upright in a jar of water like a bunch of flowers, or in the fridge sealed in a container or wrapped in a plastic bag with a piece of paper or a cloth to absorb excess moisture.

“This dish makes a satiating, yet simple meal served with bread, while also working perfectly as part of a grander offering.”

Ingredients:

For the borlotti bean stew:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 sprig rosemary

1 bay leaf

2 carrots with tops (carrots finely diced, tops kept for the pesto)

200g tomatoes, cut into 1-2cm pieces

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

240g cooked borlotti beans, plus the cooking liquid

For the pesto:

25g carrot tops, well cleaned, plus extra to garnish

25g basil, parsley or oregano

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tbsp pine nuts or bread crumbs toasted

1 tbsp grated parmesan or nutritional yeast

110ml extra virgin olive oil

Bread to serve, optional

To serve:

Breadcrumbs, lemon zest, chopped herbs, extra virgin olive oil

Method:

To make the borlotti bean stew, heat a heavy based pan with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over a medium-low heat. Lightly crush two cloves of garlic and add them to the pan still in the skin with a small sprig of rosemary and a bay leaf. Add the carrots to the pan and gently sauté for five minutes, then stir in the tomatoes. Add the vinegar and bring to the boil. Next add the cooked beans with 150ml of cooking liquid, bring to the boil with a lid on top and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the liquid begins to thicken. Season and serve topped with the pesto and carrot tops.

To make the pesto, finely chop the carrot tops and basil or other herbs and place them in a food processor, along with the garlic clove, pine nuts or breadcrumbs, parmesan or nutritional yeast and 110ml of olive oil. Pulse-blend until you have a rough but even texture. Use immediately or store in a clean, sealed jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Chickpea, chard, and chorizo hash

Chickpeas are satiating, economical and biologically restorative (Tom Hunt/LegumeChef)
Chickpeas are satiating, economical and biologically restorative (Tom Hunt/LegumeChef)

“Satiating, economical, and biologically restorative, chickpeas make the perfect replacement for potatoes in this classic brunch dish,” says Hunt. “It’s prepared in much the same way but is even simpler to make without having to dice and boil potatoes. Creamy cooked chickpeas are fried with red onions, chard and chorizo, then crushed a little to create a deliciously messy brunch.

“Chickpeas are a member of the ‘legume’ family, which includes beans, lentils and peas. Legumes are a vital part of a climate-friendly diet, as they require few fertilisers and pesticides even when conventionally grown. They also need little irrigation, an essential trait with global warming. Besides all their ecological benefits they are a particularly delicious and versatile ingredient.”

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

2 tbsp oil

200g cooking chorizo (or a plant-based alternative)

1 red onion, sliced

100g rainbow chard

100g cherry tomatoes

240g cooked chickpeas

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 eggs, optional

To serve, optional:

Fried egg, roughly chopped parsley

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat and fry the cooking chorizo until it is golden brown on all sides. Remove and chop into large pieces once cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile in the same pan, fry the sliced red onion for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Next add the rainbow chard and cook until it begins to wilt. Next add the cooked chickpeas, a teaspoon of smoked paprika, garlic and diced chorizo. Fry whilst stirring, until hot right through. Crush the chickpeas with a masher to break them up slightly and serve topped with a fried egg, roughly chopped parsley and an extra sprinkle of smoked paprika.

These recipes were created in partnership with LegumeChef, a campaign raising awareness of the benefits of pulses, to promote healthy and sustainable eating. You can visit legumechef.com to find more recipes and top tips for preparing, cooking and storing pulses.