What are pulses?
Pulses are a collection of edible seeds of plants belonging to the Fabaceae family. In fact, the term pulse refers to the edible seeds of legumes, although (from a botanical point of view) it is the pulse that is the true fruit of the plant, which contains the seeds. All pulses are characterised by their high energy content, as they consist mainly of carbohydrates, vitamins and fibre. Pulses can be divided into dry pulses and fresh pulses (immature seeds) such as broad beans and peas, beans, green beans, soya beans.
The most common pulses on the market are peas, chickpeas, lentils, lupins, peanuts, broad beans and beans. The consumption of pulses changes according to the seasonality of the product and the typicality of the places, where it is also possible to find rare ancient pulses : Italy is rich in typical pulses, the colourful lentils of Castelluccio di Norcia, among others, are famous in Umbria .
What is the difference between pulses and cereals?
The difference between pulses and cereals lies in the fact that cereals are an actual herb that is mainly used for the preparation of bread and other foods after a milling process. Among the most popular types of cereals are oats, spelt, barley and corn. The term cereals, therefore, does not indicate a botanical genus, whereas pulses means the seeds of plants, as mentioned above.
List of pulses in alphabetical order: what are pulses?
The Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has drawn up and established an official list of pulses, dividing them into types and properties. Here is a list of pulses in alphabetical order:
- Peanuts: these are the seeds of the herbaceous plant Arachis hypogaea, which is widely used all over the world, especially in convivial moments and aperitifs with friends. Peanuts are more than just a snack, however, as they contain a good amount of Omega 3, as well as plant proteins, vitamins, minerals and niacin, a vitamin that ensures the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. This pulse, grown mainly in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, is obtained by roasting the seeds and has a sweet and savoury taste, with a very pleasant bitterness.
- Chickpeas: eaten either dry or fresh, chickpeas are the seeds of the Cicer arietinum plant and are ideal for use in soups. This legume is mainly grown in the Mediterranean and in central and southern Italy. Chickpeas come in different colours: the most common is yellow, but there are also other varieties that are red and dark brown in colour.
- Chickling peas or guinea peas: these are the seeds of the herbaceous plant Lathyrus sativus, which originated in the Middle East and then spread throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is only cultivated in certain areas in Italy: its consumption is in fact in decline or in any case limited to certain areas in central and southern Italy, in fact the Ministry of Agriculture has issued a dedicated recognition as a traditional Italian food product, while the chickling pea of Serra de' Conti (grown in the Marche region) is included among the Slow Food Presidia.
- Beans: The seeds of the herbaceous plant Phaseolus vulgaris make up beans, of which several varieties are known, differing in shape, size and colour. It is estimated that there are around 500 varieties of beans, but the best known on the market are certainly the cannellini and borlotti beans. According to estimates, we can say that beans are among the most widely used pulses in Mediterranean culture. The whole fruit or pods without the parchment are called green beans, a variety of legume that should be eaten fresh after cooking.
- Broad beans: broad beans belong to the Leguminosae family and are obtained from the seeds of the annual herbaceous plant Vicia faba, of which there are four botanical varieties. In Italy, broad beans are mainly grown in certain regions (in Lazio and Sardinia, broad beans and pecorino cheese are a must), but broad beans are now found all over the world. For cooking, they are mainly used fresh as a side dish, while in some southern regions they are used dried. Broad beans can be eaten raw, which is one of the main advantages of this legume.
- Lentils: one of the best-known legume varieties in Europe, lentils are obtained from the seeds of the Lens esculenta plant, which originated in parts of Asia and later spread to the Mediterranean. Its production is not particularly high in the world, although there are many varieties of lentils differing in size and colour (yellow lentils, red lentils and the common brown lentils). Before eating them, it is necessary to soak them in water and then cook them: the consumption of lentils (strictly cooked) is particularly linked to the preparation of soups, side dishes and salads. The properties of lentils justify their fame: they are rich in vegetable proteins and carbohydrates, contain lots of fibre, vitamins, minerals such as calcium, potassium and iron and very little fat.
- Peas: as mentioned in this article on the benefits of peas, this particular type of legume is the seed of the plant Pisum sativum, which has a very ancient origin. It is in fact one of the most widespread plants and one of the oldest crops, with a very long history, starting in the Middle East and slowly arriving in Europe, where the consumption of peas is steadily growing. Peas are commercially available both fresh and frozen, canned or dried: the herbaceous sweetness of peas allows for numerous combinations and harmonious matches for soups, pasta dishes, even cold ones, and side dishes.
Pasta with pulse flour
Those who love pulses will be happy to know that there are various pulse flours on the market: starting from these, Felicia produced pasta with BIO pulse flour, naturally gluten free and vegan, made with pulses grown mainly in Puglia and Basilicata using sustainable methods. Here are the types of pasta with pulse flour, which are also available in our online shop:
- organic yellow lentils pasta
- organic green pea flour pasta (mezze penne, fusilli, pea and lentil stelline)
- organic red lentil flour pasta (sedanini, risoni, fusilli)
- organic green mung bean pasta (fusilli)
- organic chickpea flour pasta (risoni, fusilli)