If legumes are underrated (which they are, in my opinion), then Lupini takes the cake on that front.
Lupine, Lupin or Lupini beans are no way near as popular as they should be. There is both a lack of awareness of their existence, as well as a lack of their use in the kitchen and understanding of their versatility.
I admit I only heard their English name in 2017 and that name caught my attention: a legume named after Remus Lupin of Harry potter! who would have thunk!!! I am joking of course - but that was the first association, hence our ensuing romance. Also, an etymological root relating to wolf is cool enough on its own for me to explore.
I soon realised it is Turmus in Hebrew; a yellow legume I once had on the beach, usually more popular among ethnic cuisines I did not have the privilege to experience as a child. Realising this is a legume I know both as food and as a flower endemic to Israel tightened that handle on my heart and I knew I was going to explore this little golden nugget!
In the image: flowering lupini plant.
Nutritionally speaking, Lupini is pretty incredible! It is second in its protein content only to the soybean, is lower in fat than soybeans (making it the legume with the highest protein per caloric intake), has virtually no nutritionally available carbohydrates, and is therefore also high in fibre, by virtue of these carbohydrates essentially passing through the digestion tract unchanged.
This post is a little introduction to Lupini and so I will also use this to explain how I cook Lupini and why.
For all its wonderful qualities, Lupini is a guarded little bitch with potent defensive mechanisms. The original varieties (which grow endemically in the middle east region, Italy, the Andes and probably a few more places) are all very high in antinutrients and alkaloids. Extremely high even, much more so than any other legumes.
Still - do not be put off! The likelihood you will be able to consume them whilst high in these compounds is made slim as they bear a bitter taste, you will not be able to mistakenly eat lupini that has not been safely prepared.
Traditional methods of preparations used long soaks, frequently changing the water, to leach out as many of these unfavourable compounds. In addition, lucky for us with time and progress new varieties were created.
Today the most popular Lupini cultivar around the world is the sweet Lupini variety cultivated in Australia. The name 'sweet Lupin'i refers to it bearing a fraction of the anti-nutrients and alkaloids of the original strains. It therefore it requires a fraction of the preparation time and effort. I have read testimonials that older, native, strains have certain desirable flavours lacked by the Australian cultivar. I have tried the Palestinian strain a few years ago that is endemic to Israel and could not attest to it myself, though I hardly call myself a lupini connoisseur.... yet. I will follow these statements with my own teory that original strains necessitated preparation methods that maximized Lupini's great flavour. I once ate brined lupini beans purchased in a small local portuguese market which tasted like small morsels of feta cheese. I have never been able to re-create that regretfully.
I still employ traditional preparation methods, despite procuring the sweet lupini in my home. This allows me the flexibility to eat some after a short preparation as it is not toxic, but leave the majority to soak and improve in flavour and even in texture slightly. I make a large amount as they virtually never spoil if I change the salt water often enough. That way I always have a handy healthy snack or the base for some spreads and 'cheese' alternatives.
But Alas! It is time for some hands-on information!
In the image: Raw dried Lupini
How do I prepare lupini (Detailed and explained version):
1) Wash and soak the Lupini for 48 hours. Yes. That is crazy. I also try to change the water once to twice day to start encouraging the leaching of bitter compounds, and also just because standing water is perhaps not so healthy, especially in Israeli temperatures. If you live in a hot country like me, you may consider popping it in the fridge.
Strictly speaking, the new sweet cultivar can also be soaked pre-cooking for only 24 hours. Some people do this for all strains. I am certainly on the crazier side of things. The soakings after cooking are more significant really.
In the image: what your beans will look like after soaking
2) Cook at a rolling boil for 2 hours.
After cooking strain the beans, wash a couple of times and then place in a jar / tupperware.
In the image: a rolling boil cooking the beans
3) Post-cooking soaks.
This is where people lose patience, but it is very hands-off and worth it!
Fill the jar/container with water so that all the lupini are fully submerged, even better if the water is at a good excess (more leaching). This is the step where traditionally some people already add salt for salt brining them. The salt has two purposes:
a) It is a natural preservative which wards off bacteria and circumvents our lupini jar from becoming breeding grounds.
b) Flavouring the lupini bean
I reckon salt affects the bean during soaking in additional ways. I think it also changes the texture of the bean, and also makes it more plump simply by osmosis, when it is taken up by the bean, encouraging the bean to also soak up water in the same time to regulate the salt content. I will try to base these opinions in the future with some hard facts.
I choose not to salt the beans on the first two days of soaking post-cooking as I know I will not usually consume them on those days. They have a tiny tinge of displeasing flavour (listen to your tongue, those flavours are small remnants of alkaloids etc.) and I prefer to wait for them to become utterly delicious. It is a subtle difference, but it is there. So I allow myself the laziness of skipping dissolving the salt for those two days. In this way I can also taste when the beans more carefully and assess they are delicious and safe to consume with greater sensitivity. During the first few days of soaking it is important to change the water once a day (less so with the sweet cultivar, but still - I like to do so for at least the first three days). With native strains you will need to change the water every day probably for 10 days (in such cases I would wait for day 10 to add salt).
In the image: my lupini in their salt soak, living their best lives.
4) Salting the lupini soaking water.
How much salt? Honeslty - it is a matter of taste!
I have no rule of thumb, but I saw some people going for a tablespoon salt per litre of water. I just go by what is tasty to me as a final solution (as In - I dissolve some salt in hot water. I then pour off the older water from the lupini, rinse them, pour in the salt solution and make up the volume with water to cover it generously, mix well, and taste the water, then correct to taste).
Do not be afraid to undersalt or oversalt! you can correct the flavour with the next soak! I have made lupinis that were incredibly salty (by mistake) and then soaked them with water (no salt) and they became pleasantly salty (and a day later a bit too bland hehe).
Once the lupini are salted and the salt water is changed around every 3 days, they can stick around in your fridge for ages!!! It is a conservation method!
The beans are ready to eat as soon as they are delicious to you. With the sweet variety (which is the dominating one in the market and will likely be the one you purchase if not stated otherwise or bought in specialty ethnic stores) you can eat them straight after cooking, though I would recommend waiting and eating them one day later (for flavour purpose more than anything). If you have the patience, make a big amount and experience them along their salt soaking journey. They do become even better.
In the image: ready to eat!!
Usually, lupini is consumed like a snack. Since the development of the sweet variety in Australia, they have become versatile food precursors used in a myriad of applications! I was wondering why no one tried making more things out of them and started experimenting.
I have a few recipes coming your way to show different ways to use lupini, starting with this one.
Honestly though, it works beautifully as a snack! straight out of the brining water, or flavoured with spices (try garlic, paprika and salt, and you could add a bit of olive oil too. Cumin can work well in there too, and a squeeze of lemon. It is fun in place of popcorn, except it will fill you up for hours, as it is so rich in fibre.
For this spread I am about to share - one day of soaking is enough. Preferably with salt but this is not a necessity.
About the spread:
Because Lupini are not strachy, they do not require any fats to cut the starch, and so you can make these spreads with no added oil, resulting in spreads which are pretty low fat (this one in front of you is around 2.5% fat, with all the fat provided by the lupini themselves).
Their flavour is less 'beany' than other legumes, providing a more neutral canvas, especially for cheesy flavours.
I played around with different flavours when I started making these spreads. there was rosemary, balsamic vinegar and caramelized onion flavour, there was spiced tomato flavour, garlic dill, neutral, and a few more.
This flavour I am about to share was easily the best. Some of the others were good too, but none like this.
In the image: Shifka pepper bush
Since I boarded the local terrain bandwagon, where lupini is theoretically endemic and local to Israel (even if I was buying one that grew all the way on the other side of the world...) I wanted to complement it with something very Israeli: Shifka pepper.
In the image: Pickled shifka on the left to the marinated beans
I mean obviously, like all peppers, the Shifka originates from Middle America, but it has become very identified with Israeli cuisine and can be found at every self respecting hummus eatery, falafel stand and sabich joint. It is usually found pickled and is almost the Israeli 'Jalapeno', in its mild spicy kick, and sour salty flavours. It hits a modest 15,000 units on the Scollville scale and is termed "Israeli pepper" outside of Israel.
In the image: all ingredients making the spread, except the nutritional yeast which I forgot and didn't make the cut for the photoshoot
because I became a locality snob apparently :)
I threw in some coriander to cool down the spiciness of the pepper, and because coriander rocks my world. For complete transparency, I paired these based on Mexican flavour pairings, but, as it turns out coriander is also a local bloke! it originated in the Mediterrenean (Italy) and is even mentioned in the bible, in Exodus! Well I say Halleluja to that.
In the image: How I transfer the soaked lupini into the blender to avoid adding the brining liquid.
Uses for the Lupini dip:
I love using it as a dip for a vegetable platter, or as a spread for crackers, breads or lettuce wraps to be loaded with more veges and a choice of protein. Sometimes I use it in nori burritos (as pictured).
Also, by spoon, always works for me.
In the image: nori salad roll with too little lupini spread.... I usually slap it on like a teenage girl having her first go with makeup!
Abridged guide to preparing Lupini from dried beans
(This is the most thorough version, for non sweet lupini varieties. For sweet Lupine varieties most steps can be shortened. see notes above):
1) Soak Lupine beans in plenty of water for 48 hours, changing water at least once a day. In a hot country you may want to keep these in the fridge after the first half day.
2) Drain soaking water and cook Lupini in plenty of water for 2 hours.
3) Drain cooking water. Wash Lupini a couple of times. place in a jar / container and fill with plenty of water (to cover and more). Place in the fridge.
4) The next day make a salt water solution to your taste (if you prefer measurements, try 2 teaspoons salt per liter water). Drain Lupini and add salt water.
5) Repeat stage (4) for a few days before trying a lupini bean (If using sweet Lupini, they will likely be delicious already after 1-2 days of salt soaking). If the bean is delicious and there is no bitterness- it is ready to consume.
6) To keep the beans for long period of times, change salt water every 2-3 days (or every day if you are meticulous)
Spicy Lupini spread recipe:
This recipe makes about 500g spread.
Preparation time (using prepared lupini beans): 10 minutes
I make this recipe in a high speed blender, but it can be made in a food processor and the texture, though different, totally works too!!
275g Prepared Lupini beans (from salted water)
2 tbsp (30g) lemon juice
1 tbsp (15g) shifka pepper brining juice (or use jalapeno brining juice)
1 whole shifka pepper, seeds and all (but no branch part) (small or large depending on how spicy you like it)
3g garlic (about 1 small clove, or half a large clove)
10g nutritional yeast
30 g fresh coriander - stalks and all.
Salt to taste - remember the lupini was salted. I usually end up adding about 1/4 tsp.
1) Place all ingredients (except salt) in a high-speed blender or food processor and process until the spread is homogenous. If using a high-speed blender I like to start off with the tamper press, then when the spread seems homogenous, I switch off the blender to remove the air bubble trapped at the blades, then switch it on again, starting at a low speed and quickly working my way up to the high speed, not using the tamper press. If the spread churns for several seconds unhelped by the tamper press - it is ready.
2) Taste the spread and adjust salt. lemon and spiciness of the spread. Be aware that the final flavour sets once it has sat in the fridge for a couple of hours. I think I usually end up adding about 1/4 tsp salt to the spread if I used lupini beans which were mildly salted to begin with.
Let me know if you liked this recipe! Also, let me know if you liked this post! I am just finding my voice in this new blogging venture and I appreciate the feedback :)
ps If you do not want to go to the trouble of making this yourself (although it is super easy once your beans are brined), I do serve this in some hosting events I carry out at home. Contact me for more details :)