How to Use Pulses: The High-protein, Low-fat, High-fiber Ingredients Hiding in Your Pantry

You’re probably asking yourself, what are pulses? Well, this mysterious category of ingredients isn’t really a mystery at all. Pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. Pulses tend to grow in pods, and they come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colors.

And chances are that you’ve been eating them your entire life.

Common varieties of pulses include dry beans (black, kidney, pinto, lima, navy, adzuki, etc.), chickpeas, lentils, lupins, pigeon peas, split peas, and dozens of others. Pulses have found their ways into all types of cuisines because they are easy to cultivate in a range of climates and are often inexpensive to produce, but the main reason that pulses have emerged as a staple ingredient across countries and cultures is their nutritional profile.

Pulses are one of the healthiest categories of plant-based ingredients you can find. They are naturally low in fat and sodium, contain no cholesterol, and are great sources of protein, iron, potassium, and fiber. But pulses are also good for the world, serving as an affordable source of protein and nutrients with a low carbon footprint.

This Monday, check out our list of pulse-forward recipes, and start experimenting with this incredibly versatile and nutritious plant-based ingredient.

Plant protein: beans

Black Bean and Farro Soup

Farro is an underutilized grain that provides texture and chew to soups and stews. Pairing farro with pulses—like in this black bean and farro soup—is a terrific way to get a well-rounded meal that’s nutritious, rich, and filling.

Black Bean Meatless BallsBlack Bean Meatless Balls and Zucchini Noodles

You don’t need ground beef or pork to make a great meatball. These black bean meatless meatballs with zucchini noodles are made with Italian ingredients like bread crumbs, garlic, fresh parsley and basil, and an Italian seasoning blend, and taste just as good as a classic spaghetti and meatballs.

Egyptian Kosheri Rice with Split Peas and Chickpeas

Kosheri is a classic Egyptian street food made with rice, lentils, and pasta mixed together and topped with a spicy tomato sauce, crispy onions, chickpeas, and a tangy vinegar garlic. It’s a hearty and comforting dish, typically featuring lentils, but this recipe for Egyptian Kosheri Rice uses chickpeas and split peas instead.

Lemon Ginger Peas

With the right mixture of ingredients, the humble pea can easily be transformed into an elegant side dish. This recipe for lemon ginger peas is a sweet, spicy, and sour mashup that pairs well with a tofu stir fry or green curry.

Moro (Dominican Red Beans)

When red kidney beans are cooked together with fresh vegetables, tomato sauce, and rice, the result is one of the most typical and beloved dishes in the Dominican Republic called Moro also known as Dominican red beans. This delicious vegan rice-and-beans recipe can be served on its own or with avocado and a fresh salad.

Poblano and White Bean Chili

Smooth, smoky, and satisfying, this recipe for poblano and white bean chili is overflowing with flavor thanks to the generous quantities of ground chile, fresh herbs, and spices. Hominy (whole corn kernels soaked in lye) adds a nice toothsome bite to the chili and provides a pleasant counterbalance to the bold seasoning blend.

Couscous Chickpea SaladSpicy Couscous and Chickpeas

This dish of spicy couscous and chickpeas is a simple way to transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean. The combination of lemon juice, fresh mint, cilantro, shallot, garlic, tomato, and coriander makes for a complex flavor that’s bright and exciting.

crostini cropped imageSplit Pea Pesto Spread

Pesto is such a versatile condiment that you can literally put it on anything—toast, pasta, black bean burgers, flat breads…the list goes on. This version of split pea pesto gets a boost of protein from the addition of the split pea. The vibrant green color is easy on the eyes, too.

Vegetarian Black Bean Enchiladas

A simple Monday meal, these vegetarian black bean enchiladas are a definite crowd pleaser. Prepare a dish of them in fewer than 5 minutes, and then just pop them in the oven and wait. In 30 minutes, you’ll have a gooey, bubbly, delicious plant-based meal that’s ready to serve.

Warm Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Lentils are a great addition to salad, adding a nice textured bite and pops of protein. In this warm lentil salad with lemon vinaigrette, the lentils offer a pleasant earthiness to go along with the sweet roasted root vegetables.