Lupini beans: the healthy snack food that tastes of Mediterranean!
I like starting this blog with something that reminds me my childhood and the loud and lively street markets of my natal region, Puglia. Whenever I taste lupini I picture my grandfather bringing home a bag of them sold by street vendors. His task, after hanging out with old friends, strolling along "la Villa" (the public city garden), was to buy dried fruits and lupini for the Sunday lunch. Lupin or lupini beans, also called wolf beans, are the yellow legume seeds of Lupinus genus and are a traditional food of the Mediterranean basin. The earliest archaeological reports on lupinis are referred to the XII dynasty of Egyptian Pharaohs (over 2 thousand years BC). There are many varieties of lupini, but the bitter one, which you see in the picture, are high in alkaloids and are extremely bitter, inedible, unless rinsed for a long period of time. I prepare them soaking the seeds for some days in salted water, after the cooking. This traditional procedure gets rid of the alkaloids' bitterness, leaving the unique delicious taste of salt-cured lupini beans! They are traditionally eaten as a snack food by making a small tear in the skin with one's teeth and "popping" the seed directly into one's mouth. Lupini have many healthy benefits, are one of the highest sources of plant proteins available (40%), easily digestible with high bioavailability of essential nutrients and minerals, a natural snack food, really tasty but cholesterol free, convenient, very low in lectins and saponins (two known gastric irritants) and do not require chemical treatment!