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The return of the legendary lupin.


Legendary lupins are proteinpackedpods with a past. Munched on by Roman emperors, endorsed by Hippocrates, and preserved at Pompeii, the high-in-lysine little beans have been soaked to sweetness for centuries. But look out--they're about to be "discovered' again, this time with a twist.

Though there may be nothing newunder the sun, there's definitely something new under the sauce. Sweet lupin flour is now the base of such nutritious noodles as spaghetti, macaroni, and rigatoni. Health-food stores are stocking these pasta products, and naturalists are touting the bountiful bean as a discovery equal to sliced bread. In fact, bread baked with lupin flour or a lupin-triticale blend is described by an innovative Minnesota baker as a "hot item' in the marketplace.

Lupins might have forfeited thisnew wave of interest had determined German plant breeders not launched plans 60 years ago to screen thousands of lupin plants. Their goal was to identify and then to cultivate a "sweet' variety, free of bitter alkaloids. Nature had endowed these legumes with bitterness to ward off pests and predators. But man could fool mother nature. In fact, before the researchers ever began, farmers learned that if they washed the beans and soaked them for at least a week, an incredible edible resulted.

Early fans of lupins probablydidn't appreciate the beans' high protein content or their richness in amino acids, lysine, threonine, and methionine. The beans merely tasted good, and that was good enough. They doubled as vegetables, added zip to antipasto, created satisfying gruel for babies, could be fed to livestock, and enriched the overworked soil. To this day, in several underdeveloped parts of the world, the wild strain of lupins is grown, harvested, soaked for days, and then eaten. Happily, the process is simpler stateside, where sweet lupins flourish, producing as much protein per acre as soybeans, at a far lower cost.

"This is an extraordinarily functionalsource of dietary fiber,' explains Victor Gary Riestenberg, the director of food development at Good Earth Agri Products, Perham, Minnesota. "The sweet lupin hull flour is 87 percent dietary fiber and blends well into traditional white-flour-based foods without tainting them brown or making them coarse or heavy. In fact, we find the addition of sweet lupin creates finer textured baked goods that retain moisture and stay fresh longer.'

Lupins take on even broader nutritionalvalue when combined with triticale flour, a cross between durum wheat and natural rye. (The name triticale is a mix of the Latin words for wheat, triticum, and rye, secale. Each grain has its own qualities, but grains grown side by side cross-pollinate to produce seeds with characteristics of both. The resulting plant, dubbed triticale, became a commercial crop in the 1950s, thanks to experiments by Canadian scientists.) Triticale's nutty flavor, high fiber, and lysine, which blend well with lupins, bring added moistness, body, texture, flavor, and of course, nutrition.

Together, lupins and triticale combinein such balanced food products as "pasta with a plus.' The plus factor is the high-fiber protein and lysine content. A pleasant "minus' should also be mentioned--this pasta has 14 percent fewer calories than the ordinary variety, and the noodles don't stick.

The harmonizing duo of lupins andtriticale (or each as a solo performer) are "naturals' in recipes for granola, pizza crust, curried pilaf, and macaroni salad. Combined in pasta, they not only defy stickiness but also stand up well during reheating without collapsing into mush. On its own, triticale shows promise as the key ingredient in a distinctive natural bread; lupins can be munched as a condiment or used as a meat extender, much like soybeans.

Persons concerned about worldhunger are eyeing these inexpensive crops with renewed interest. Different strains of lupins have been developed to mesh with a variety of growing conditions. Unlike soybeans, lupins don't require rich soil, costly processing, and transportation to and from processing facilities. A whole-grain food that can be grown in marginal soil, lupins actually help restore chemical balance to the acreage. Once harvested, they can be eaten green or dried and ground into meal or flour for use in gruel and baking.

Even for people unswayed by nutritionalcontent, unconcerned with economic value, and unmoved by crop hardiness, lupins have something to offer. As the Caesars, Hippocrates, and the residents of Pompeii all knew, the beans taste good, and sometimes that's good enough.

Sunny Honey Breakfast Buns (Makes 16 small rolls)

Combine and let stand until dissolvedand frothy:

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon yeast


4 tablespoons oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup water

1 cup lupin flour

3 cups unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine and knead 10 minutes. (Youmay knead in additional 1/2 cup unbleached flour as necessary.) Let dough rise until double.

Form into rolls. Place in greased913 pan. Brush with egg whites and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Let rise. Bake at 375|F. for 25 minutes.

Cottage Pasta Bake (Makes 6 servings)

4 ounces lupin elbow macaroni

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon margarine

1 1/2 cups cream-style cottage cheese

1 cup dairy sour cream

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

Dash bottled hot-pepper sauce

Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook macaroni in large amount of boiling,salted water till tender; drain well. Cook onion and garlic in hot margarine till tender. Combine noodles and onion mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients except Parmesan. Turn into a 10 6 2 baking dish. Bake at 350|F. for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika and pass the Parmesan.

Photo: Lovely lupins aren't just good to look at;their fiber-filled beans can be made into "incredible, edible' breads and pastas.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:its beans can be made into edible bread and pasta
Author:Phillips, Charles W.
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Nov 1, 1986
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