How to use pulses

Whether you keep them dried or tinned, a stash of beans is a handy storecupboard standby. From creamy butter beans to nutty lentils, learn how to make the most of your beans in everything from tacos and soups to brownies and burgers.

  1. Kidney beans

    Named for their shape, kidney beans are a key ingredient in chilli con carne – try this vegan twist with cauliflower and potato wedges. If using dried kidney beans, it’s vital to follow the cooking instructions, and to boil them for at least 10 mins to remove toxins. Blitz tinned beans into healthy burgers or load up a dish of indulgent chilli cheese fries.

    Kidney beans
  2. Red split lentils

    Small and thin, these lentils cook quickly and disintegrate to a thick purée. They have a gentle, nutty taste and are great for making dhals or for thickening soups. Simmer into a creamy red lentil and spinach korma or use to add depth to a slow-cooked smoked ham and lentil soup.

    Red split lentils
  3. Puy lentils

    These speckled lentils have a distinctive flavour and a protected designation of origin – lentilles vertes are the same variety but aren’t grown in the Puy region of France. These work in hot or cold dishes – add to salads for hearty lunchboxes or serve an impressive vegetarian dinner with a pretty savoury carrot and parsnip cake.

    Puy lentils
  4. Black beans

    Sometimes called turtle beans, these are popular in Mexican and Chinese dishes, and pair well with smoky flavours. Add to veggie versions of classic Mexican dishes – try vegan fajitas or smoky espresso black bean tacos. For something completely different, use a tin in squidgy black bean and peanut butter brownies for a gluten-free bake.

    Black beans
  5. Chickpeas

    Best known for their use in houmous and falafel recipes, chickpeas are a versatile staple in Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. Dried chickpeas can be ground to make gram flour, or split to make chana dhal. The liquid from a tin of chickpeas, called aquafaba, can also be used as an egg replacement in many vegan dishes – try these vegan meringues topped with pineapple and passion fruit.

    Chickpeas
  6. Butter beans

    These flat white beans have a soft, buttery flavour and floury texture. They work well in stews or casseroles – or blitz warmed beans with garlic, mustard and a splash of hot stock for a beautifully creamy mash. For quick lunchboxes, this butter bean dip or tuna salad can be easily made ahead of time.

    Butter beans
  7. Pinto beans

    Named for their speckled appearance (pinto means ‘paint’ in Spanish), these beans turn a pale brown when cooked. They have an earthy taste and are popular in Mexican and South American cooking. Use two tins to make refried beans loaded onto indulgent easy nachos.

    Pinto beans