Except in some South American countries, the Western world doesn’t give lupines much regard. Chickpeas get much more publicity (like our vegan chickpea and artichoke salad). Maybe it has to do with the long soaking and rinsing that the beans have to undergo in order to lose their bitterness and become edible. Real slow food. But with every food that’s good for you, the effort is worth it. Yes, and lupines are tasty and have high nutritional value. Not to mention that they are an eminently sustainable crop, fixing nitrogen into the soil and (so far) having escaped the clutches of GMO ideology. And of course, eating more pulses and less meat benefits you and the planet.
In North Africa and the Middle East, the tradition of eating cooked lupines, well salted, has never quite died out. If you’re already in the Middle East, you can buy some pre-cooked lupines in any open-air market.
The photographs accompanying this post were taken in the open-air markets of Ramleh and Ashdod, Israel. But assuming that you’re nowhere near a Middle Eastern open-air market, you may buy the beans dried and cook them, as in the recipe below
Lupines were known by the ancient Romans and Greeks, although considered the food of the poor. Odd how “poor folk’s food” is so often based on delicious, healthy grains like beans, which are also inexpensive.
Lupines are rich in essential minerals, iron, calcium and incomplete protein. They are gluten-free.
Only the commercial varieties are edible, so don’t give into temptation to pick them off the flowering plants in your garden unless you’re 100% sure it’s safe.
Three ideas for serving cooked lupines:
Most people just eat them as they are, hot or temperature, with a good squeeze of lemon juice and some ground cumin stirred into them. Folks who are fond of relaxing in front of the TV with a glass of beer say that lupines are particularly delicious at those moments.
A handful of cooked lupines makes a hearty addition to a vegetable or meat-based soup.
Mash them slightly and pile them on slices of toasted baguette that have previously been brushed with a little garlic butter. Serve with a chilled beer.
Add a few tablespoons to a salad.
How To Cook Lupine Beans
500 grams – 1 lb. dried lupine beans
6 cups water
A drizzle of olive oil
Lemon juice and/or ground cumin and black pepper to taste
Cover the beans with fresh water and set aside for 24 hours. During this period, drain, rinse, and replace water four times. They will swell and some will lose their peels.
Drain and rinse the beans one more time and then cook them, in plenty of fresh water, between 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Remove a few and taste. If they are tender and absolutely not bitter anymore, they are ready to salt.
Add salt to taste – start with 1 teaspoon. Cook a further 15 minutes.
Drain, season with olive oil, lemon juice, pepper and cumin.
Serve hot or at room temperature as you would olives.
Lupines will keep for weeks in the refrigerator if packed into lightly salted water and tightly covered.
More delicious bean-based snacks on Green Prophet:
Photos by Miriam Kresh.