Legumes (also known as pulses) are cooked in a number of ways: casserole, baked, pilaf, salads and dips.
Traditionally, there are some important steps followed for all legumes:
- Always go through legumes for stones
- They are soaked overnight before cooking and rinsed half way through the cooking – when they start splitting
- Olive oil is added early, after rinsing, for better flavour. More olive oil can be added towards the end of cooking or during serving – for extra flavour
- To avoid the hardening of the legumes, tomatoes are added at a later stage, but not too late; tomato paste can be added earlier
- Aromatic and flavouring greens such as parsley, fennel and Mediterranean hartwort are added towards the end, again, for better flavour.
- Cook legumes well and on low heat – for better flavour; if in doubt, overcook legumes
- Salt (for flavour) is added late, again, to prevent the hardening of the legumes.
The practice of eating legumes with bread, in addition to enhancing the flavour, facilitates a balanced protein intake (the legume proteins are complimented by those of the bread). However, the highly refined supermarket bread does not provide the necessary flavour and satisfaction when eaten with legumes. In fact, I have met older Greek people who, in order to make supermarket bread more palatable, let it dry before eating it. Until then I thought I was the only one following this practice.