Moment of real talk: Not much at the market is beckoning to us right now. (Sorry, 'taters.)
So we're turning to the pantry for inspiration, pulling out bags of dried legumes and letting them shine at the center of our table.
First, a bit of legume legwork: the difference between legumes and beans. Remember how your geometry teacher said that all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares? Well, all beans are legumes, but not all legumes are beans. The legume family also includes lentils, peanuts, peas and tamarind, among other edible seeds and flowers.
As to why we're cooking with them now (and you should, too): The beauty of dried legumes is that they're cheap, easy to store, endlessly available (see the slideshow for some of our favorite types)—and they soak up other flavors like a sponge. Throw a bunch in a pot with some aromatics, let 'em steep and serve them with a fried egg or some crusty bread. Boom, dinner is done.
Though some (cannellini, pinto and red kidney beans) do require the extra step of overnight soaking, others, like French or caviar-esque beluga lentils, are small enough that they don't. That's why they're perfect for cozy, mid-winter dishes like our dal breakfast bowl (see the recipe), which revolves around nutty masoor dal slow-cooked with warm spices like turmeric, cumin and coriander until they're creamy. They're the base for soft-scrambled eggs, a bit of rice, lemony yogurt and crisp pickled daikon—basically, exactly what you'd want to eat on a lazy Sunday morning.
This dish has dal the right moves.
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