Year of the pulse…
In honor of this versatile food group, we present a dish starring beans, lentils and dried peas. We served our spicy shrimp gumbo as the opening course for our Spanish tapas gourmet dinner this year. But it works well in larger amounts as a main course, too.
Legumes are plants that form their seeds inside pods. A Pulse is a legume crop that is harvested for its dry seed. Ergo, green peas or green beans are legumes but they are not pulses. Also excluded are oil crops like soybeans and peanuts and legumes used for sowing, like seeds of clover and alfalfa.
Pulses contain a respectable amount of protein as well as many other nutrients. But it’s their protein that is getting the most attention this year. That’s because pulses can replace costly meats in our diet without adding saturated fat. And they do so more efficiently than animal products.
Pulses reduce the environmental footprint of our grocery carts. They take nitrogen from the air and fix it into soil, to fertilize other crops. They also make phosphorus in soil available to other plants for better growth. Farmers growing pulses can cut back on chemical fertilizers.
While they are improving the land, pulses consume much less energy to produce a gram of protein than a beef cow does. Pulses are simply win-win, agriculturally speaking.
Use them in our shrimp gumbo featuring the spicy ancho rub from a few posts back, and you might say pulses are win-win on your table, too.
Shrimp gumbo with ancho chili spice rub
Serves 8 as a main course
Ancho spice rub – see previous post for directions
- 2 tablespoons smoked or sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried and powdered ancho chilis
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground fennel
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons dried white beans
- 4 tablespoons dried red beans
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 1 pound chicken, diced and coated with 1 or 2 tablespoons of the ancho spice rub, above
- 6 cups water
- ½ cup brown rice
- 1/4 cup lentils
- 1/4 cup spice mix (1 t each of garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, oregano, thyme; 1/2 t each of pepper and cayenne; 2 T powdered chicken soup stock)
- 1 pound raw cleaned shrimps, coated with 1 or 2 tablespoons ancho spice rub, above
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 diced red or yellow peppers
- 1 cup diced kale
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lemon, cut in wedges
- 8 Thai chilies
- Blend the spicy ancho rub, if you don’t have it on hand already.
- Soak the dried beans for 6 hours or overnight in cold water. Discard the water.
- Brown the onions with the spiced chicken in a heavy soup pot.
- Add 6 cups water, the soaked beans, rice, lentils, and spice mix.
- Boil for 15 minutes, then simmer with lid for 70 minutes. Add water if it boils dry. Gumbo should be thick.
- Add tomatoes, oil, kale, and peppers and heat through, about 5 minutes.
- Add shrimp and cook until they turn pink, 2-4 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt and more ancho spice rub, as desired. It should taste warm and smokey.
- Serve in bowls garnished with a lemon wedge and a red Thai chili. Warn guests NOT to eat the burningly hot Thai chili used as a garnish. Squeezing the lemon can be encouraged :).
We followed this spicy concoction with many small Spanish tapas plates. A chocolate fig cream pie topped things off. More recipes to come.