Quick, easy to cook and at their best in summer, fresh legumes, such as these delicious peas and beans, brighten up any plate.
Here’s how to make the most of them
Keep legumes in the fridge, as they can dehydrate quickly and lose their crispness. If freezing, to keep their green colour, blanch them then run under cold water.
Fresh garden peas and broad beans need to be removed from their pods. Broad beans have a shell, too – after cooking, gently squeeze the bean to slide the shell off.
Sugar snaps and mangetout can be eaten raw (wash first), but most legumes should be cooked – only briefly, though, so they keep their bite and flavour. Toss with herbs and a little oil.
Some of our favourite legumes
These kidney-shaped, bright green beans have an outer pod that is best removed. The beans’ creamy texture makes them great for mashing with a little olive oil, or paired with sharp cheeses such as feta.
This flat-podded variety of pea is sweet and crisp, and at its best from June to September. Eat the whole mangetout raw (washed) for a healthy snack, or blanch briefly and use in green salads.
These long, thin beans, sometimes known as French beans, are also available as an extra-fine variety. Chop off the ends and steam, boil or stir-fry. Try as a side with chopped tomatoes and cooked garlic slices.
Sweet and versatile, this British staple can be blitzed into a soup, braised in butter or just boiled briefly as a side (sprigs of mint enhance the flavour). You can pod fresh peas up to three days ahead; store in an airtight box in the fridge.
Crisp and sweet, sugar snaps are best eaten raw (always wash them first) or cooked briefly to keep their bite. Sugar snaps are lovely with fish, and in stir-fries with a dash of soy sauce.
Meet the Expert: Laura Ianello Giassetti Aguiar, Tesco legumes technologist
What do you love about legumes?
Legumes are a great fast food – so versatile and quick to cook. They’re rich in fibre and low in calories, too.
What makes for the best crop?
We choose the varieties very carefully, then follow the legumes every step of the way, from planting right through to harvest. Climate and soil are also key to a great crop. And we cook and eat samples weekly to ensure the quality remains high.
Where do you source them from?
We follow the weather and buy legumes from around the world. The garden peas and broad beans in store over summer are all British-grown – look out for the giant sweet burst peas, as they are full of flavour. Fine beans need a good balance of sunlight and water to grow straight, and are often sourced from Kenya.
What are your favourite legumes?
I actually enjoy podding peas and they’re lovely with a bit of butter and some mint. And fine beans are great with ricotta in cannelloni.
Why not make the most of your legumes and try the legume tart featured in this issue?
As featured in Tesco Magazine July/August 2014.