Meat Free Monday One day a week can make a world of difference

10 ways with beans, peas and lentils

Dive into our collection of protein-packed recipes and discover that anything is pulse-able!

Posted : 1 January 2023

With the cost-of-living crisis putting households under increasing pressure to cut spending, it’s the perfect time to pump up the pulses! Beans, lentils and chickpeas are affordable, nutritious and sustainable – as well as versatile. From casseroles to curries, tacos to tagines, pulses are the unsung heroes of kitchens in cuisines around the world! So why not crack open a tin of butter beans, get some lentils soaking and give these 10 tasty pulse dishes a try?


Kidney beans

A reddish-brown kidney-shaped pulse, with a soft, inner flesh, kidney beans can be used to bulk up salads and are brilliant in dishes such as fajitas, chillies, pies and burgers. Dried kidney beans require soaking and cooking thoroughly, as their outer skins contain toxins when raw. If your preference is using tinned beans, our top tip is to buy those that come in salted water or brine (rather than just water). Found in Asian grocery stores or the ‘world’ aisles of supermarkets, they tend to be softer and tastier, and they’re often cheaper too! Try this Portobello Steak ‘n’ Kidney Bean Pie from Aimee Ryan – a vegan version of the British classic steak and kidney pie that will definitely not disappoint!


Red lentils

A couple of advantages of red lentils is that they don’t require soaking and they’re quick to cook (around 15-20 minutes on a low simmer should do the trick). This creamy Indian-inspired Red Lentil Dhal is packed with flavour – nourishment for the body and food for the soul!


Brown lentils

The ‘meatiest’ of lentils, brown lentils are perfect when you want something really hearty. They’re great in dishes such as shepherd’s pie, soups, stews, curries, dhals and Bologneses. Give them a try with our very own warming Wellington!



An almost obligatory ingredient for anyone who supports Meat Free Monday or enjoys a plant-based lifestyle, chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are high in fibre and a good source of iron, calcium and zinc. One of the most versatile legumes around, they can be used whole in curries and tagines, mashed up for falafel, blitzed into hummus or used in flour form (gram/besan flour) for pancakes. And if you’re using tinned chickpeas, don’t forget to save the brine – now common in plant-based cookery, this can be whisked into ‘aquafaba’, a useful egg white replacement in vegan meringues and mousses! The texture of oven-roasted chickpeas makes them delicious and moreish – see for yourself with these Coronation Chickpeas from Miguel Barclay!


Puy lentils

Grown in the Le Puy region of France, these small green-blue marble-coloured lentils have a rich, earthy flavour and keep their shape and texture when cooked. A great source of dietary fibre and protein, puy and other lentils offer the special benefit of managing blood sugar imbalances, and can prevent unnecessary snacking by keeping you fuller and satisfied for longer! Serve up this delicious Zesty Puy Lentil Salad from Rose Glover as part of a mezze or on its own for a light lunch.


Black-eyed peas

Although called ‘peas’ they’re actually beans, and healthy ones at that. A little firmer than some other beans, they don’t break down in cooking so are good in dishes such as the traditional Caribbean dish ‘rice and peas’. You also won’t go wrong with these Black-Eyed Pea Croquettes with Dijon Glaze from Alicia Silverstone – crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.


Butter beans

You could say that butter beans (aka lima beans) are the kings amongst beans! Large, creamy, filling and nutritious, they work well in pasta dishes, casseroles, dips, soups, stews, salads and even simply cooked with olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. This hearty Sweet Potato and Butterbean Gratin with Vegan Béchamel from M&S Food utilises them perfectly!


Cannellini beans

Packed with protein, and rich in key nutrients such iron, manganese and folate, cannellini beans should be a cupboard staple in every Meat Free Monday supporter’s kitchen! A simple way to enjoy these beauties is to fry them in a little olive oil with fresh rosemary and sea salt, wait until they crisp up a bit then serve. They also make a mean meatball! Don’t believe us? Try these yummy Pumpkin Seed Cannellini Meatballs from Ida Hemmingsson-Holl.



At their best in early summer, peas grow inside long, rounded pods. A cup of these little green gems contains less than 100 calories but provides plenty of protein, fibre and micronutrients. Peas are perfect just picked, or cooked from frozen (boil for 2-3 mins or steam for 1-2 mins), and can be used in everything from soup to salads, risottos to ragouts.
Light and fresh, this Pea Velouté, from innovative plant-based restaurant Holy Carrot, is a joy to eat – serve with all the garnishes to impress your guests!


Black beans

Rich and creamy, black beans are full of all the good stuff, including a high level of dietary fibre called ‘resistant starch’. Rather than break down when it moves through the digestive system, this starch stays whole, which is good for gut health. A staple in Latin-American cuisine, black beans are great in burritos, enchiladas tostadas and more. These Black Bean Tacos from Linda McCartney, with Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney, make for a great Mexican-style feast!
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