BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL
Beans are a terrific example of a healthful food that provides what foodies call “sustainable nutrition.” They are an affordable, nutrient and protein-rich food that does not negatively impact the environment. Choose a few of your favorite beans, add a healthy grain, and you have a dish filled with protein and nutrients without taxing the farmlands already suffering under the stress of the meat industry.
The wonderful variety of beans makes them easy to incorporate into a range of hot and cold meals. Beyond canned, ready-to-use beans, you can choose from a wide array of dry beans, a subgroup of legumes and pulses (an edible seed that comes from the legume plant) that are “climate-smart.” By this we mean that they simultaneously adapt to varying climates and use less water compared to many other protein sources. Dry beans also require less fertilizer and promote biodiversity, all of which plays a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Each type of bean calls for slightly different preparations. Some varieties of canned beans may be eaten out of the can after rinsing, others require gentle heating, and others are so delicate, they are best used in cold dishes. Likewise, dry beans will have different storage requirements, require rinsing or soaking, and are ideal for use in a variety of cooking methods.
With a little extra time and an array of seasonings or supplemental ingredients, you can turn basic beans into a flavorful meal. For example: combine kidney beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans with diced tomato, diced colorful peppers, corn off the cob, fresh squeezed lime juice, chopped cilantro, EVOO, ground cumin, salt, and pepper. This makes a gorgeous, aromatic bean salad that you can serve over greens or with warm farro.
Try out this recipe:
One of the most colorful and, dare we say, flavorful of pasta dishes is Pasta Primavera! Using seasonal veggies and colorful pasta makes it a wonderful entree to serve anytime of the year. Even the most novice of cooks will impress guests with this simple and delicious dish. Whether it is your main course or a side dish, you can’t go wrong with Pasta Primavera!
- 10 oz dry Garbanzo Bean Pasta
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
- 2 cups broccoli florets, cut into matchsticks
- 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
- 1 medium yellow squash, sliced into quarter portions
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced into quarter portions
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup (heaping) grape tomatoes, halved through the length
- 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan (can sub with toasted sunflower seeds or non-dairy cheese)
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
OPTIONS: Any colorful variety of veggies can be used. If you aren’t a fan of squash and zucchini, use 1 small of each and add in a cup of sliced portobello or porcini mushrooms (increased vitamin D content).
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a 12-inch (and deep) skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add red onion and carrot and saute 2 minutes.
- Add broccoli and bell pepper then saute 2 minutes.
- Add squash and zucchini then saute 2-3 minutes or until veggies have nearly softened.
- Add garlic, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning and saute 2 minutes longer.
- Pour veggies into the empty pasta pot or a serving bowl. Add the drained pasta. Drizzle lemon juice and salt while adding in pasta water to loosen as desired.
- Toss in 1/4 cup parmesan and parsley then serve with remaining parmesan on top.
With so much Love,
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