Loving Legumes - Tuna & White Bean Salad

From the pinto beans of Mexico to the chickpeas of the Middle East, legumes have been an important staple in many cultures for centuries. It's no wonder, because legumes -- a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils -- are as near to a "perfect food" that you can find.

Tuna and White Bean Salad

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Yield: Serves 4

Tuna and White Bean Salad Ingredients

    1 1/2 cups chopped and peeled cucumber

    1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

    1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

    1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    1 (15-ounce) can cannellini, Great Northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 3/4 cups cooked

    2 (6-ounce) cans chunk light tuna, drained

    1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained

Tuna and White Bean Salad Recipe Instructions

    Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and toss well to coat.

Tuna and White Bean Salad Nutrition information per serving:

278 calories; 31g protein; 28g carbohydrate; 5g fat; 6g dietary fiber; 286mg sodium.

A 1/2-cup portion of legumes, on average, contains at least 20 percent DV (Daily Value, requirement based on a 2,000 calorie diet) for fiber, folate and manganese; 10 percent DV for protein, potassium, iron, magnesium and copper; and 6-8 percent DV for selenium and zinc.

Factor in that beans are economical, easy to store for long periods, and suit a number of cooking styles, and it's easy to see why they have been such staple fare for years. And modern science reveals even more reasons to love legumes: They have been linked with lower blood cholesterol levels, lower body weight, higher intake of dietary fiber, and lower rates of heart disease, hypertension, some types of cancer and diabetes. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that you eat at least three cups of legumes each week. So, what are you waiting for? Dig into legumes with the following helpful hints.

Cooking up dried legumes

It's easier than you think if you follow these tips:

-- Rinse and drain dried legumes.

-- Sort and discard damaged legumes or foreign material.

-- Use one of these methods to rehydrate:

Quick hot soak: Cover dried legumes with water, boil for two minutes. Cover pot, soak for 1 to 4 hours. Discard soaking water, cover with fresh water and cook.

Overnight cold soak: Cover dried legumes with water and soak overnight 12 hours or more). Discard soaking water, cover with fresh water and cook.

Yield: About 6 cups from 1 pound dried legumes.

Introducing Legumes Into Your Kitchen

-- Stock your pantry with canned beans for a quick addition to a menu.

-- Bring home a bad of dried legumes to cook in chili, stews or casseroles.

-- Toss garbanzo or kidney beans into salads for an earthy, nutritious addition.

-- Serve edamame as a healthy, delicious appetizer.

-- Include hummus as a yummy spread on crackers and bread.

-- Eat hearty bean or split pea soup as a starter or main course.

-- Toss cooked lentils with vinaigrette dressing for a French lentil salad.

-- Substitute beans for potatoes as a side dish once a week.

-- Stir cooked red beans or peas into rice for a zesty Caribbean dish.

-- Stir black beans into salsa for a tasty dip.

-- Try beans for breakfast with eggs and tortillas.

-- Cook up a thick Tuscan-style white bean casserole.

-- Sprinkle cooked beans into wraps for a quick lunch.

-- Put Southern black-eyed peas with greens on your dinner menu.

-- Use baked beans as an accompaniment to your favorite meats.

-- Try an Italian classic: pasta tossed with cooked navy beans and tomatoes.

Legumes Use

Legume ... Use

Adzuki beans ... Rice, Asian dishes

Anasazi beans ... Refried beans, Southwestern dishes

Black beans ... Latin dishes, soups, stews

Black-eyed peas ... Southern dishes, casseroles, curries

Cannellini beans ... Italian soups, stews, side dishes

Chickpeas (garbanzos) ... Hummus, soups, stews, Indian dishes

Cranberry beans ... Soups, stews, side dishes

Edamame/soybeans ... Appetizers, salads, casseroles, soups

Fava beans ... Side dishes, stews

Great northern beans ... Soups, casseroles, side dishes

Kidney beans ... Salads, stews, chili, side dishes

Lentils ... Soups, stews, chili, side dishes

Lima beans ... Succotash, salads, casseroles, soups

Navy beans (white beans) ... Soups, stews, side dishes

Pink beans ... Soups, stews, chili, side dishes

Pinto beans ... Refired beans, bean dip, with rice

Red bean (small) ... Soups, salads, chili, Creole dishes

Split peas ... Soups, stews, casseroles

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Tuna & White Bean Salad - Loving Legumes for Health, Flavor and Value

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