Review: The Beans & Pulses Cookbook
Editor: Simona Hill
2008, Anness Ltd., ISBN-13: 978-1844764235
My wife and I were just trying to remember which one of us bought this book. I rather suspect it was her because, although I do enjoy flipping through it, she really enjoys it and has tried more recipes out of it than I have…
The book runs for 128 pages and contains 87 recipes. Not surprisingly, a good deal of the recipes are vegetarian but there also chapters pairing beans and lentils with fish and meats.
There is a very good section at the beginning that introduces a wide variety of different beans and legumes, many bean products (such as tofu and tempeh, etc.), as well as a several different type of bean sprouts. Indeed, it is this part of the book, even more than the recipes, that I particularly find interesting and useful. Amongst the those beans listed in the illustrated overview there is also a refernce to a particular type that is being touted for its anti-flatulence qualities… Personally, I can’t see the appeal of that, although, for some strange reason, my wife seems interested.
The range of recipes is quite international in scope but with a heavy focus on the Mediterannean. There are Latin American and West Indian recipes, as well as some from Asia but, rather surprisingly , other than a few dal dishes, there is not much emphasis on Indian preparations. I have always considered India to be something approaching the spiritual home of lentil cookery but, for a book of this type, it it seems a little odd that there would be no mention of either Rasam or Sambar, to name a few obvious choices.
Still, I can’t really criticize this book for the somewhat narrow focus as many of the recipes are very good and very nicely ilustrated. Not only are there classics, like Cassoulet and Chili con Carne, there are also a lot of innovative and interesting preparations as well. Amongst others, the Mussels in Black bean sauce at page 119, looks especially appealing and I definitely mean to give it a try one of these days.
For the $16.99 list price, this is a worthwhile book. It is obviously quite specialized in scope but there are lots of recipes to appeal to a wide range of tastes. It certainly has my wife’s seal of approval but I would especially recommend it to anyone looking to enhance the healthiness of their diet by incorporating more of these useful and versatile sources of protein.