Canned pulses are a brilliant timesaver for busy chefs because they cut out the time spent soaking and blanching dried pulses, so you only need to heat them up or add them straight to salads if you’re using them cold.
They’re a great source of protein and iron for vegans and vegetarians, and are a healthy choice for meat-eaters too, counting towards one of your recommended 5 a day. Their versatility means you can add pulses to soups, casseroles and meat sauces to add extra texture and flavour. Here, Darren Creed, award winning chef lecturer at Loughborough College, shares some ideas created with his students…
1. Seabass with haricot beans, artichoke puree, red wine jus
This was our main course entry in the Country Range Student Chef Challenge by Sian Dixon. Sea bass has a mild, subtle flavour with a buttery texture, add into this the fact that it’s pan roasted in olive oil makes it an extremely healthy tasty dish. We have used fat reduced cream where the cream is needed and we have included pulses. They are a cheap, low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and they count towards your recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. This also adds extra texture and flavour meaning you can use less meat/fish, which makes the dish lower in fat and cheaper.
2. Pumpkin cannellini bean and freekeh risotto, toasted pumpkin seeds and parsley jus (by Country Range Student Chef Challenge team member Aveir Gordon)
When cooked, cannellini beans have a fluffy texture and a slightly nutty, mild flavour, which works really well with the freekeh and its unique flavour. It works so well with the sweetness of the roasted pumpkin and the addition of parsley balances the dish, because it brightens flavours.
3. Chickpea and ham pizza (by Country Range Student Chef Challenge team member Emily Bucknall)
This is a really good idea for a snack – an unusual pizza but superb with chickpeas and smoky ham that is perfect garnished with frisee lettuce.
4. Prawn tartare with hummus and prawn crackers
This dish is an adaptation of a dish we did in Sorrento, Italy, with light, fresh prawns with an earthy chickpea hummus, a simple Italian tomato sauce and the crispy crunch of a prawn cracker, or as the Italians say, a ‘dragon cloud’.
5. Bean pureé with slow roast tomatoes, caramelised onion and capers salad
Similar to the traditional Greek fava dip, five bean purée makes a fantastic savoury snack or can be served as part of a mezze feast. The creamy purée is the perfect partner for sweet, roasted tomatoes and red onions. Serve with homemade warm flatbreads.
About Darren Creed
Darren Creed is a chef lecturer at Loughborough College, whose team of three students scooped the 2016 Country Range Student Chef Challenge title at Hotelympia. He went on to win a bronze medal at the 2016 International Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, for the Programme Culinary Art, creating four canapés plus a five course Wedding Breakfast festival menu. Darren’s team were also finalists in the 2017 Challenge.
Darren gained a wealth of catering experience working in 4 and 5 star hotels and Rosette restaurants since leaving college in 1990. He initially started with Whitbread whilst at college before moving to the Hilton national group, and won his own rosette at the age of 24. He has been teaching now at Loughborough College since 1998, and full-time since 2004. In addition, he runs his own outside catering company.