What are Legumes? 

Unfamiliar by this vegetable group, many people ask: what are legumes? Healthy, with a wide-range of culinary uses, legumes include various types of beans that can be used in salads, soups, dips and side dishes.

What are legumes?What are legumes?

What are Legumes?

Legumes are essentially beans; some of the many types include:

  • Adzuki or Azuki beans – found in Asian Cuisine
  • Anasazi – Southwest refried recipes
  • Black beans – often paired with rice; soup and dip ingredient in South American and Mexican Cuisines
  • Black-eyed beans – cowpeas or frijoles; used in Southern dishes
  • Cannellini beans – “white kidney bean;” an Italian staple
  • Edamame – soybean used for snacks, garnishes and soy drinks
  • Fava beans – popular in stews due to a notable chewy texture
  • Garbanzo beans – “chick” peas; used in mutli-bean salads; a common Mid-Eastern staple used in hummus and falafels
  • Kidney beans – red, white and flageolet varieties; used in salads, stews and chili
  • Lentils – brown, black, green, yellow and red varieties; popular in soups and Indian cuisine
  • Lima beans – “butter” or “Madagascar,” waxy, starchy beans hold up well in soups and casseroles
  • Mung beans – called sprouts; used in a variety of Asian Cuisines
  • Navy beans – Yankee or Boston; used in American cuisine, most notably, baked bean dishes
  • Pinto beans – common in Mexican and Latino dishes; used with rice to fill Burritos, mashed and served refried or used for chili
  • Soy nuts – often roasted; considered a complete protein; found in soymilk, yogurt and cheese

Although some sources classify green beans and peas as legumes, they do not contain the same nutritional value as aforementioned – excellent sources of protein.

What are Legumes Nutritional Benefits?

In addition to protein, legumes provide:

  • Fiber
  • "Good" Fats
  • Antioxidants
  • Amino Acids
  • Vitamins and Minerals such as
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron Calcium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • B Complex

Legumes contain no cholesterol and low levels of harmful fats.

What are Legumes classified as?

Although legumes are technically a protein, most are also considered complex carbohydrates. If you follow a diabetic or similar diet, keep in mind that legumes count toward your meat/protein and carbohydrate portion – not a vegetable.

What are Legumes and how do I prepare them?

Legumes are an important staple in almost every vegetarian diet, but their availability and wide choice of accessible recipes make them appropriate for almost any diet. Cooking legumes can be as complex as making homemade soups and stews or as simple as marinating canned beans overnight.


What are legumes? They include the many different sprouts which are very healthy to add to your diet.

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon honey
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 Teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 Pound mung bean sprouts
  • 4 Green onions (Chopped)
  • 1 Green bell pepper (Seed, cut into thin strips)
  • 2 Medium tomatoes (Chop)

Blend soy sauce and honey together; set aside.

Heat vegetable and sesame oils in large heavy skillet.

Add bean sprouts and onions; stir fry 1 minute.

Add pepper and stir fry 2 minutes; mix in soy mixture.

Stir in chopped tomato and stir until thoroughly heated.

Spoon onto serving dishes; sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve immediately; serves 4 to 6.


What are legumes? All kinds of lentils are included in legumes.

  • 2 Cups beef broth
  • 1 Crushed bay leaf
  • Salt/ pepper to taste
  • 1 Cup dried lentils, split peas or black eyed peas (Wash and pick over)
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • 1/8 Teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 Teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ Cup apple cider
  • ¼ Cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ Cup brown sugar

Combine broth, bay leaf, salt, pepper and lentils in heavy Dutch oven.

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes; add remaining ingredients.

Stir to mix well; cover and simmer until tender (Black eyed peas take longer).

Serves 4.


What are legumes when making red beans and rice?

  • 1 Pound dried red beans (Wash; pick over; soak overnight)
  • 3 ½ Cups canned beef broth
  • 2 Cups water
  • 2 Medium onions (Chopped)
  • 3 Stalks celery (Chopped)
  • 1 Ham bone including a little meat (Or use 2-3 ham hocks)
  • 5 Cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon thyme
  • 1 Crushed bay leaf
  • 1 Teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • ½ Pound Italian sausage (Remove casing; slice)
  • 6 to 8 Cups cooked rice

Drain beans and place in large Dutch oven; add beef broth and water.

Over medium high heat bring beans to a boil; REDUCE TO medium low.

Cover and simmer for 1 hour (Add more water if necessary to cover beans).

INCREASE HEAT to medium high; add onion and next 6 ingredients.

NOTE: If necessary add enough water to always keep the beans covered.

Add the sausage to the pot and bring to a boil; REDUCE HEAT to medium low.

Cover partially and simmer about 1 ½ hours until beans have thickened.

Serve over cooked rice; serves 8.


What are legumes when making salsa?

  • 2 Teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 4 Cans (15 Ounces each) black beans (Rinse and drain well)
  • 2 Cans (15 Ounces each) whole kernel corn (Drained)
  • 2 Red bell peppers (Seed; chop fine)
  • 1 Purple onion (Chop fine)
  • 1 Cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (Pack cup)
  • 1 Cup finely chopped fresh parsley (Pack cup)
  • 2/3 Cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ Cup olive oil
  • 6 Cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook cumin seeds in small heavy skillet over medium heat 2-3 minutes.

NOTE: Stir and cook seeds until browned.

Combine cumin seeds, black beans and remaining ingredients.

Stir to blend and place in tightly covered container; store in refrigerator.

Makes 10 cups.


What are legumes? In this recipe they are black eyed peas.

  • 3 Pounds dried black eyed peas (Cooked and drained).
  • ½ Cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ Cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ Cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ Cup vegetable oil
  • ½ Cup ketchup
  • ¾ Cup honey
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • Salt/ pepper to taste

Combine and mix all ingredients.

Cover and refrigerate several hours to marinate.

Serve cold; serves 8-10.


What are lentils? When mixed with vegetables and herbs they make a great meal.

  • 1 Cup dried brown lentils
  • 1 Quart fresh water
  • Salt/ pepper to taste
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 Chopped onion
  • ¾ Pound zucchini (Trim; slice thickly)
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 Fennel leaves (Finely chopped)
  • 4-5 Basil leaves
  • 1 Sprig rosemary
  • 1 Teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ Pound potatoes (Peeled; cut into chunks)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Chopped parsley

Cover lentils with the water in large saucepan.

Add salt, pepper and bay leaves; bring to a boil.

Simmer for 5 minutes; drain and reserve liquid.

Heat oil in large saucepan; add onion stirring until transparent. 

Add zucchini stirring for 5 minutes; add garlic, lentils and juice. 

Add fennel leaves, basil, rosemary, cumin and reserved liquid.

Simmer for 45 minutes.

Add the potatoes to pan and simmer 20 minutes longer.

NOTE: Lentils should be tender and potatoes.

Season with butter, more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve hot sprinkled with chopped parsley; serves 6.


What are legumes?  They are delicious when spiced up with great seasonings?

  • 4 Slices bacon
  • 2 Cans (15 Ounces each) black eyed peas (Drained)
  • 1 Can (16 Ounces) diced tomatoes (With juice)
  • 1 Cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 Large green bell pepper (Finely chopped)
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon salt*
  • 1 Teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ Teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ Teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Brown bacon in large skillet; remove bacon and crumble.

Set bacon aside; leave drippings in skillet.

Add black eyed peas and remaining ingredients to the skillet.

Bring to a boil; REDUCE HEAT and simmer 20 minutes.

Spoon into serving dishes; sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

Serves 6.


What are legumes when making appetizers?

  • ½ Cup chopped onion
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 Can (15 Ounces) kidney or pinto beans (Drain; mash)
  • 1/3 Cup salsa PLUS for serving
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ Cup cream cheese
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon lime juice
  • ½ Cup diced avocado
  • 1 Package (8.5 Ounces) flour tortillas (6 inch round)
  • 1 Red bell pepper (Seed; cut in thin strips)
  • Sour cream

Place onion in skillet sprayed with vegetable spray. 

Cook and stir over medium heat until tender.

Stir in mashed beans, 1/3 cup salsa and next 4 ingredients.

In a bowl mix together cream cheese and lime juice until smooth.

Stir in avocado; spread 2 ½ teaspoons over 1 side of each tortilla.

NOTE: Leave order of ½ inch around edges.

Spread 2 tablespoons of bean mixture over the cheese mixture.

Top with 2-3 thin strips of pepper (Place so strips go with the rolling).

Roll each tortilla; cut each into 4 parts and insert toothpick in each.

Serve with salsa and sour cream; makes 40.


What are legumes? They are delicious cooked as bean soup and served with cornbread.

Soup Beans

  • 1 Pound dry lime beans (Or favorite)
  • ½ Pound pork (Ham, sausage or jowl bacon)
  • Cayenne pepper pod
  • 1 Large chopped onion
  • Salt/ pepper to taste


  • 2 Strips bacon
  • 1 Cup corn meal
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1 Cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ Teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons bacon fat or butter
  • 1 Beaten egg

FOR BEAN SOUP soak beans overnight in cold water.

Rinse beans, pick over and cover with fresh water.

Add meat and pepper pod; bring to a boil. 

REDUCE HEAT and add onion; simmer 2-3 hours until tender.

FOR CORNBREAD preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Fry bacon in 10 inch iron skillet; remove from skillet and crumble.

Pour bacon fat from skillet leaving about 2 tablespoons.

NOTE: Set skillet off heat but keep fairly hot.

In a bowl mix together corn meal and remaining ingredients.

Stir in crumbled bacon; pour into hot skillet.

Bake about 20 minutes until set and usually cracked down center.

Serve hot with bean soup and butter.


What are legumes? They are a great addition to casseroles.

  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil (Divided)
  • 1 Finely chopped onion
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • 3 Fresh tomatoes (Chop)
  • 1 Pound bulk spinach (Wash; shake dry, chop coarsely)
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • Salt/ pepper to taste
  • 2 Cans (15 Ounces) garbanzo beans (With liquid)
  • ¾ Cup coarse bread crumbs

Heat 2 TABLESPOONS oil in large saucepan over medium heat.

Add onion and cook until soft; add tomatoes.

Cook for 3 minutes longer; set aside.

Heat 2 TABLESPOONS oil in skillet; stir in paprika and then spinach.

Season with salt and pepper; cook 2-3 minutes.

Add spinach to the onion and tomato mixture.

Add garbanzo beans and liquid; mix well.

Stir in bread crumbs and simmer for 30 minutes.

Recheck seasoning and serve hot; serves 4.


Lentil soup is one of many legume recipes that need to cook slowly, but yields a hearty, flavorful soup that can last well over a week refrigerated.

When cooking with legumes such as lentils, you first need to remove any discolored or shriveled beans or small stones. Shift through a handful at a time, rinse under tepid water and place in a colander.

Required Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup brown lentils
  • 1 Medium Vidalia or sweet onion
  • 5-6 Carrots
  • 3-4 Celery stalks
  • Parsley
  • 4-5 Cups vegetarian broth/stock
  • Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • 1 (8oz) Tomato sauce
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Optional: Vegetable Bouillon, Red Wine, Pasta – Spaghetti, Tubettini or Orzo

Finely dice the carrots, celery and onion and add to a medium pot with boiling stock; seasoning to taste; slowly stir in the tomato sauce and a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the lentils, adjusting heat to a simmer. Lentils need to cook slowly, until tender. Periodically stir and add water or stock as necessary. If you find that the water has taken away from the flavor, simply add a cube of vegetable bouillon.

Cook the pasta until tender in a separate pot and add right before serving – if you cook the pasta with the lentils, the soup will become starchy.

Recipe varieties include: adding wine to simmering lentils; adding bouillon cubes or fresh herbs for extra flavor; serving with grated cheddar or gruyere cheese.


What are legumes? Even though you do not need meat for protein in recipes with legumes, this one has great flavor with the sausage. As far as being healthy; with the added ingredients I wouldn’t call it healthy but very tasty.

  • 1 Pound sausage
  • 2 Medium diced onions
  • 1 Cup diced celery
  • 1 Can chili flavored beans
  • 1 Can pork and beans
  • 1 Can lima beans
  • 1 Can yellow wax beans
  • 1 Can kidney beans
  • 1 Can green beans
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Cup tomato soup
  • 1 Can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 2 Slices bacon

Sauté sausage with onion and celery until sausage is done; add chili flavored beans and pork and beans.
Drain and add all other beans; add mustard, brown sugar and tomato soup.
Place mix in large greased baking dish; spread tomato paste on top.
Criss cross bacon on the top; bake at 350F degrees uncovered for 1 hour.

What are legumes? Beans that are excellent sources of proteins and essential nutrients with a wide range of recipe options including dips, salads, casseroles, stews and soups – healthy alternatives to meat that can be enjoyed by more than vegetarians.