Chef Notes: Lupini Beans

Chef Notes: Lupini Beans

If you’ve ever followed a very low carb diet for an extended period of time you can sympathize with the difficulty in finding replacements for side dishes. I’ve found a low carb pasta and a few wraps, pita’s, and breads but there still aren’t a lot of options. I was reading up on various legumes, trying to find the lowest carbs out there and stumbled upon Lupini beans. At 16 total carbs or 11.4 net carbs per cup you can’t beat them. (Net carbs, by the way, is total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohol.)

You can find Lupini beans jarred in a brine or in dried form in most grocery stores and certainly almost all Italian markets/deli’s. They look kind of like butterbeans, only about half the size. They’re a very popular antipasti in Italy, served mainly at holidays, but haven’t really caught on in the US. After doing a bit of research, I decided to try preparing them myself versus buying the jarred beans. Now I am hooked. They make such a wonderful little snack, bean salad, or side dish. The beans contain the full range of amino acids and are second only to soy beans in protein levels. Don’t be put off by the long preparation time. It only takes a few minutes a day but it must be done correctly to remove the intense bitterness not to mention the risk of lupin poisoning which is caused by high levels of alkaloids. One other caution, people with peanut allergies are often also allergic to Lupini beans so use caution.  They are eaten by biting a small tear in the skin and “popping” the inside into your mouth, but they can also be eaten with the skin on.

Here’s the preparation method I used:

Rinse a 1 pound bag of dried lupini beans well under colder water.  Place in a large saucepan along with a handful of kosher salt and cover by 2-3 inches with cold water.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 3 hours.  Strain, rinse well, and return to pot with another handful of salt and again add water to cover by a couple of inches and place in the refrigerator.  Repeat that last step daily for 10 – 14 days or until when you sample one the bitterness is completely gone.  Don’t worry, you will not get lupin poisoning from trying one or two to test for bitterness.  Once they are ready you can store them in the refrigerator in the same brine solution for many weeks.  To serve simply remove the desired amount from the brining liquid.


In addition to just eating them straight out of the brining liquid other serving ideas include:

Toss cold with olive oil, garlic, a little shallot, your favorite herb (sage, basil, thyme, parsley are all delicious)

Used as an ingredient in a three bean or green salad

Warmed up and mixed with canned tomatoes

Warmed up and tossed with shredded pork or chicken and a scoop of salsa

Throw them back on the stove with a ham bone and a few vegetables for a great bean soup

Blend up in a food processor with some olive oil, garlic, and tahini for hummus

They make a wonderful little snack to replace the popcorn urge. Mine took 10 days and I’m just crazy about them. Of course, I grew up eating lots of different dried beans. They were a staple in my home and it was a relief to find something new that fits into my diet.

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