Tasty and Nutritious Pulse Recipes

Want a break from eating meat? Local chefs and food experts share innovative ways to serve up peas, chickpeas, lentils + more

Local chefs and food experts share innovative ways to serve up peas, chickpeas, lentils + more

2016 has been declared the International Year of Pulses by the United Nations to celebrate one of the world’s most important foods: the edible seeds of the legume family.

Pulses include beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils, seeds that are packed with fibre, protein, nutrients and flavour, many of which are grown right here on Canadian soil. Their nutritional intensity, inexpensive accessibility and ease of cooking have made them indispensable staples to cooks all over the globe.

Click through to go beyond your regular recipe repertoire and try a fancier take on pulse dishes.

Pulse Tacos by Michael Smith, Celebrity Chef and Pulse Ambassador

PULSE FILLING ingredients

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) of canola oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (18 mL) of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of ground cumin
  • 1 cup (250 mL) of green lentils
  • A 19-ounce (540 mL) can of your favourite beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups (500 mL) of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of your favourite hot sauce


  • A head of bibb or iceberg lettuce
  • A few handfuls of grated cheddar or taco blend cheese
  • Your favourite salsa
  • A large bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 12 hard taco shells


  1. Make the lentil bean filling.
  2. Splash the canola oil into a large skillet or a sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Toss in the onions, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Sauté until the vegetables soften and the spice flavours brighten, 3 or 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lentils, beans, water, and salt. Bring the works to a slow, steady simmer.
  5. Cover tightly and continue slowly cooking until the lentils are tender, 35 minutes or so.
  6. Stir in the hot sauce.
  7. Assemble the tacos.
  8. Fit a full leaf of lettuce into a hard taco shell. This will hold the fillings in when the hard shell inevitably breaks.
  9. Fill each taco with a heaping spoonful of the lentil bean filling.
  10. Pack with cheese, salsa, and cilantro.
  11. Serve with the lime wedges and share.

Makes 12 tacos, Serves 4 to 6

Composed Chickpea Salad by Chef Ned Bell, Yew Restaurant + Bar


  • 1 head butter lettuce, little gem lettuce or baby romaine hearts
  • 1 pint heirloom style cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper, roasted and seeded, cut into strips
  • ½ cup canned chickpeas; drained and rinsed, sautéed in 1 oz of olive oil and the zest/juice of half a lime
  • 1 cup cooked and picked Dungeness crab

Compose all of the ingredients on a plate or platter. Garnish with the red pepper hummus and pour some of the vinaigrette on top (hummus and vinaigrette recipes below).


  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 whole roasted red pepper, peeled and seeded
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp cracked black pepper

Purée all the ingredients in a food processor, remove and set aside.


  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp cracked black pepper

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender.


I chose to use Dungeness crab, but you could substitue with cooked wild salmon, albacore tuna, B.C. spot prawns, grilled chicken, crumbled cheese (goat, cheddar, fromage frais), martinated tofu, toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or cashews). Basically this is a composed salad and would be tasty with any protein you choose or have in your fridge at home.

Sweet Potato Smothered with Chickpeas by Alyssa Bauman, Nourished


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, preferably rounder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, diced
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed if using canned
  • 1/2 to 1 cup vegetable broth
  • cilantro for garnish
  • 1 cup stewed tomatoes


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Scrub sweet potatoes and pierce several times with a fork.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until tender.
  4. Combine cloves, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, paprika, and salt; set aside.
  5. In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Sauté shallot until translucent, 4-5 minutes.
  7. Stir in spices and cook for 1 minute more.
  8. Add stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, and 1/2 cup vegetable broth.
  9. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add chickpeas.
  10. Continue to simmer for at least 15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are done.
  11. Add more vegetable broth if desired.
  12. Slit sweet potato and gently squeeze open.
  13. Remove part of the insides of the sweet potato reserving for a separate use or stir into chickpeas.
  14. Ladle chickpea mixture over sweet potato and serve with a sprinkle of cilantro.
  15. Option to add kale or other greens to chickpea mixture.

Poached Pacific Octopus with Chickpeas by Sous Chef Bobby Milheron, Boulevard


  • 5 lb raw Pacific octopus
  • 1 L red wine
  • 1 onion
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 bunch tarragon
  • 3 lemon peels, pith removed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  1. In a heavy-bottom pot, bring the wine to a simmer.
  2. Once wine begins to simmer, add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Keep at a low simmer for 2-3 hours depending, on size or until the octopus is tender. Remove from the liquid and allow to cool.

CHERMOULA herb sauce

  • 2 cups diced San Marzano tomato
  • 2 cups cilantro, stems removed
  • 2 cups Italian parsley, stems removed
  • 7 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 tbsp ginger, sliced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, sliced
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add cumin, ginger, garlic and smoked paprika and toast until the mixture becomes very aromatic. 
  2. Add tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat add cilantro, parsley and kaffir lime leaves and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove lime leaves, and blend in a food processor until smooth.


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
  • 1 cup onions, sliced
  • 3 tbsp garlic, sliced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 L chicken stock
  • juice of 2 lemons
  1. In a heavy-bottom pot, sweat the onions and garlic until soft.
  2. Add cumin and paprika, and toast for 1 minute. 
  3. Add soaked chickpeas and chicken stock, and simmer until tender (approx. 1 hour). 
  4. Blend in a food processor until smooth. 

To serve

  1. Grill or sear octopus in a hot pan.
  2. Once the octopus has some caramelization, remove from heat and dress with lemon and olive oil. 
  3. Spread the chickpeas onto your desired serving plate.
  4. Place the octopus on top, and drizzle the chermoula around the plate.
  5. Optional: garnish with shaved fennel and parsley dressed in olive oil and lemon. 

Serves 8.

Red Lentil Waffles by Trevor Arsenault, Professional Home Economist


  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) dried red lentils
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) natural wheat germ
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ½ cups (375 mL) skim milk
  • 2 omega-3 eggs
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract


  1. Add lentils and water to a to a small sauce pan; cover, bring to the boil and stir.
  2. Reduce to simmer and cook uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes, until lentils are very soft.
  3. Use a wire sieve to drain any remaining liquid. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flours, wheat germ and baking powder.
  5. When the lentils are cooled, take a separate, medium bowl and whisk together the applesauce, milk, eggs, vanilla and lentils.
  6. Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Whisk together until combined. Batter should be thick with small lumps.
  7. Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C). Place a cooling rack on top of a large rimmed baking sheet.
  8. Let batter rest while waffle iron preheats.
  9. Once waffle iron is hot, lightly brush both sides with canola oil.
  10. Add 1/3 cup (75 mL) batter to each side of the waffle iron, close the lid and cook until waffles are golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  11. Transfer waffles to wire cooling rack, cover with foil, place in the oven to keep warm and continue cooking remaining batter.

Makes 12 waffles.

Excerpt from Homegrown: Celebrating the Canadian Foods We Grow, Raise and Produce by The Ontario Home Economics Association (Author), Mairlyn Smith (Editor)

Chipotle Black Bean Chili by Teresa Makarewicz, Professional Home Economist


  • 2 tsp (10 mL) canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed well and diced
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) chili powder
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) paprika
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
  • Two 19 oz (540 mL) cans black beans, well rinsed and drained, divided
  • One 28 oz (796 mL) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups (375 mL) fresh or frozen corn, no need to thaw
  • ½ cup (125 mL) water
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) pureed canned chipotle pepper with adobo sauce (see note)


  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat; add oil, garlic, onion, red pepper and carrots; sauté for 10 minutes or until the onion is softened and slightly browned.
  2. Stir in chili powder, paprika, oregano and cumin; sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  3. Puree 1 cup (250 mL) of the beans in a food processor or mash well with a potato masher.
  4. Add the pureed and whole beans, tomatoes, corn, water and chipotle pepper to the pot, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve with your choice of topping.

notes & TIPS

  • Look for canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the Mexican section of most grocery stores. To freeze leftovers, puree the entire can of chipotles with adobo sauce until smooth. Spoon 1 tbsp (15 mL) portions on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until firm; transfer to an airtight container and freeze to use for the next spicy chili attack.
  • Suggested toppings: thinly sliced green onions, chopped fresh cilantro, plain yogurt, shredded Canadian old cheddar cheese.
  • Freeze leftover chili for up to 3 months and keep it ready for a lunch or busy weeknight dinner option.
  • Upon standing, this chili will thicken. When reheating, add more water if you like and thin to desired consistency.
  • The family that eats together stays together, so make dinner a family friendly event by setting out small bowls of any of the suggested toppings and then let everyone create their own signature bowl of chili.

Excerpt from Homegrown: Celebrating the Canadian Foods We Grow, Raise and Produce by The Ontario Home Economics Association (Author), Mairlyn Smith (Editor)

Braised Beef Short Ribs with White Bean Ragu by Chef Dana Reinhardt


  • 4 tbsp + 4 tbsp canola oil
  • 10 lbs beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 4 cups veal stock or chicken stock
  • 2–14 oz cans white beans, strained


  • 2 carrots, large chop
  • 2 onions, peeled and halved
  • 3 celery ribs, large chop
  • 10 cloves garlic

Spice sachet INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp pink peppercorns
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large square of cheesecloth and twine

Creamy Polenta INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups coarse polenta
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Whisking constantly, gradually add the polenta and reduce the heat to med/low.
  3. Cook, whisking often, until polenta is tender and creamy about 25 minutes.
  4. Add the butter and Parmesan and whisk in.
  5. Season to taste with salt.
  6. In a large skillet, heat the first 4 Tablespoons of canola oil over medium/high heat.
  7. Season ribs well with salt and pepper.
  8. Sear both sides of the short ribs until nicely browned.
  9. Place the ribs in a large ovenproof baking dish.
  10. Heat the remaining canola oil and sauté the carrots, celery, and onions until golden brown.
  11. Meanwhile bring the veal stock to a simmer.
  12. Add the browned vegetables to the ribs.
  13. In the skillet, add the red wine and bring to a simmer.
  14. Add the tomato paste and mix well.
  15. Add red wine mixture to the ribs and cover with the simmering stock.
  16. Add the spice sachet and cover with tinfoil.
  17. Poke a few small holes in the foil and braise at 325°F for 4 hours, until ribs are very tender.
  18. Separate the ribs from the sauce and strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer.
  19. Skim the fat from the top of the sauce and set aside.
  20. Pull apart the ribs from the bones and mix with the sauce and the beans.
  21. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over creamy polenta.
  22. Mangia e bevi!

Serves 8.
Excerpt from The Butcher The Baker The Wine and Cheesemaker By The Sea Cookbook by Jennifer Schell

Grilled Bone-in Rib Steak with Horseradish Red Lentils Crème Fraiche Chef Faisal Kassam from Cibo Restaurant

Crème Fraiche

  • 1 tbsp crème fraîche
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh horseradish, finely grated
  • salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and season to taste. Yields 250 ml.


  • 1 32 oz bone-in rib steak
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • horseradish
  1. Allow steak to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking (this will ensure it cooks evenly).
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  3. Preheat your grill to high heat.
  4. Generously season the steak with salt and pepper.
  5. Mark the steak on the grill (about 1 minute on each side).
  6. Place on a pie pan and cook in the oven for 5 minutes per side (flipping halfway).
  7. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  8. Serve with horseradish crème fraîche.

Red Wine Lentils

  • Splash of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery heart, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 250 g Umbrian lentils
  • 1 L chicken stock, kept hot, 150 mL reserved
  • 500 mL red wine, preferably something good and robust, 100 mL reserved, the rest kept hot
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  1. In heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add a little oil.
  2. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and a good pinch of salt.
  3. Turn down the heat and cook until soft, about 10–15 minutes.
  4. Add the lentils to the vegetables and slowly add a little bit of stock and a little bit of the red wine.
  5. Stirring continuously, keep alternating between the stock and red wine until the lentils are soft but still have a bit of texture, about 20 minutes.
  6. Taste and season with salt and add a splash of red wine vinegar.

Excerpt from The Butcher The Baker The Wine and Cheesemaker By The Sea Cookbook by Jennifer Schell