The most common representatives of this family which are used as foods are the various kinds of beans and peas, also lentils. Taking the world over, legumes are, next to cereals, the most valuable and the most extensively used among vegetable foods. They are found in all climates and countries. The lentil is one of the most ancient of food plants. It has been grown from early times in Asia and the Meditarranean countries.

Many people with weak digestion often experience distress after eating boiled beans or peas. By removing the hulls in their preparation this is largely overcome, and in this manner they may be made into a variety of ways that are appetizing as well as nourishing. When they are known to be old, they should be soaked over night before cooking.

Stewed Lima Beans

Pick the beans over, wash them thoroughly, and lift them out from the water to remove any small pieces of grit that may be on the bottom of the kettle. Put them on the fire in cold water, add one teaspoonful of vegetable oil to each cup of beans, and let them boil gently, after boiling begins, until they are thoroughly done; salt should be added after they have boiled a half hour or so, to give them flavor.

Lima Bean Puree

Drain the beans well, and mash them through a colander to remove the hulls. If they are very soft, set them in the oven to dry out a little, to about the consistency of a mealy mashed potato. To two cups lima bean puree add one-fourth cup rich cream, salt to taste, put in fireproof baker, mark on the top with a knife, brush over with milk or cream, and put upon the top grate of the oven to brown, and send to table. This mixture may be shaped into croquettes or cutlets and baked, then served with a gravy. The recipe given above for stewed lima beans may be taken as a guide in cooking most of the legumes, of which the following will be simply variations from this rule.

Stewed Red Beans, Creole

1 1/2 cups red beans, 6 large whole or 2 cups stewed tomatoes, 2 round tablespoons minced onion, 1 tablespoon oil, salt, 1 small clove garlic.

Prepare the beans as for stewed lima beans, put the oil, the onion and garlic on the stove in a small saucepan and cook a few minutes, but do not brown the onion. Add this to the beans with salt, and cook until extra well done, then have the ripe tomatoes peeled and quartered, add them to the cooked beans, and let them cook for ten minutes after boiling begins, or longer. Season with celery salt, dish up with a little chopped parsley on top.

Savory Lentils And Rice

1 cup lentils, 2 cups boiled rice, 1 round tablespoon minced onion, 1 tablespoon minced celery or 1/4 teaspoon celery salt, a sprinkle of sage, 1 cup stewed tomatoes.

Wash and prepare the lentils as for the stewed red beans, add cold water and put on to boil. Make the oil quite hot, drop in the minced onion and celery for a few minutes, and then add it to the lentils, cook until well done with salt to taste, then add the tomato, and boiled rice, and a little sage, let it boil up well and serve with a sprinkling of parsley on top; a little rich cream may be used to finish, if desired.