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Chef touts taste, versatility of pulses

As Canada’s food culture matures and concerns about sustainability in the food system intensify, more will discover the infinite possibilities of cooking with pulses, says a renowned Canadian celebrity chef.

Jamie Kennedy’s restaurant at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art in Toronto was the setting last week for an inspired sampling and sharing of exquisitely prepared pulse-based dishes.

The feast was prepared as a reception for participants in the 2nd annual Pulse Health and Food Symposium last week and a testament to Kennedy’s own discovery of the versatility, flavour and simple, natural goodness of cooking and eating pulses. It is no wonder other cultures have made pulses a mainstay in their diet, says the chef. They’re easily prepared, delicious to eat, and can be the basis for all kinds of dishes, from cassoulets to crepes.

In Canada they’re also one of the most environmentally friendly crops grown.

Our lack of use of pulses, Kennedy says, stems from Canadians having had very little experience cooking with them – those of Anglo-Saxon origins, that is – at least until now.

“It’s foreign to us,” he says. And what’s foreign to us we tend to avoid. But the Canadian diet is beginning to reflect our global diversity. And it is the culinary influences of Canadians’ of other ethnic origins that are slowly putting pulse-based soups, appetizers, main dishes and even desserts on our menus.

The exciting thing he’s witnessed in Toronto over the years is the expansion of people’s culinary habits, and the way other cultures’ cuisines are being discovered and incorporated into daily diets. “There’s been this willingness to explore, cross-culturally, among the inhabitants and citizens of this city,” he said. “It wasn’t always this way,” he adds.

Buying, Storing and Cooking Pulses

You can find most pulses in grocery stores, organic food stores and bulk food stores. Look for pulses in the ethnic, bulk or canned food sections. They are also found in soups in the baking ingredients aisle.

Pulses will keep for years if stored in tightly covered containers in a cool, dark, dry place. – Source: Pulse Canada Pulses -Cooking with beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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