Discovering legumes: chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas, and broad beans.

Legumes have always been an important staple in Italian cuisine, offering a wide range of flavours and nourishment. These foods are rich in essential nutrients and offer numerous health benefits. Among some of their nutritional properties are their vegetable protein content, fibre, which is useful for digestive health, and their vitamin B content.

Besides their valuable nutritional properties, we should remember that legumes have been fundamental ingredients of the Italian “cucina povera”, the so-called simple cooking as we learned thanks to with the article,  thanks to their easy and cheap cultivation.

Among the most popular are chickpeas, beans, lentils, and peas, each with its own history and versatility in cooking.

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Chickpeas a history of nutrition and versatility

Chickpeas, known for their round shape and slightly nutty flavour, have been cultivated in Italy since ancient times. Rich in protein, fibre, and vitamins, they are at the base of iconic dishes such as the famous Tuscan ribollita soup or the common ‘pasta e ceci’.

Beans: pillars of taste and tradition

Beans, with their creamy texture and rich flavour, are one of the most emblematic ingredients of Italian cuisine. From rustic soups to fresh salads, beans have a place of honour on Italian tables. Among the most popular varieties are cannellini, borlotti and black beans.

Peas:  sweet and crunchy green bites

Peas, with their sweet flavour and crunchy texture, are a favourite classic in Italian kitchens. Used fresh or frozen, peas are often featured in risottos, soups, and side dishes. Their natural sweetness adds a vibrant touch to many traditional recipes.

Lentils: small gems of health

Lentils, often associated with good luck, are a staple ingredient in Italian cuisine, especially during the New Year holiday season. Rich in iron and protein, lentils are used in soups, stews, and salads, and add a nutritious touch to any dish.

Broad Beans: delicate and tasty green delights

Broad beans, with their delicate flavour and soft texture, are a distinctive element in Italian recipes. Whether used fresh or frozen, broad beans are often the stars of dishes like risottos, soups, and side dishes. Their natural sweetness adds a distinct touch to many traditional recipes.

As well as classic dishes, Italian legumes are the protagonists of innovative culinary creations. Chickpea cream, panelle (chickpea fritters),  humus, and bean balls prove that these ingredients can be made into modern delicacies without losing the link to their culinary roots.

Lentil ragout

A very tasty alternative to the classic meat sauce is the one made with lentils. Chef Walter Zanoni shows us his recipe in consisting of easy and “tasty” steps.

Lentil ragout is a perfect condiment for pasta but also an excellent garnish for warm croutons to serve as an aperitif, for example.