Honestly, these offer bang for your buck when it comes to protein (over 25%) & they are rich in satiating fibre. Lentils are also rich in B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc & potassium. Yup, this plant-based food source has got a lot going for it.
We did not really have these growing up, so I am a bit late to the game on this one. Bearing this in mind, I thought I’ would give you the low down on what I’ve found.
Often there are a few types at the store, but they pretty much fall into 3 main categories.
Pretty common. They have a mild flavour & hold their shape during cooking. I add these to meat dishes (THINK spag bog or shepherd’s pie). They are also great as a vego option too (delish in lettuce wraps with some salad). They have an earthy flavour.
This would be my preference to use in salads as it is a stronger flavour which is often described as peppery. These vary in size, unlike the Puy lentils which are approx. 1/3 the size of green lentils. Just as an aside Puy lentils originate from the le Puy region in France & also have a peppery flavour profile.
⭐️ Red or yellow
These are “split” which means they are cut into smaller pieces. These are a sweeter, nuttier flavour. As they are smaller, they cook faster (makes sense right). I often use red lentils in soups or stews to boost the fibre & thicken a soup or stew. These are often used in dal/dahl.
OK, so you can now recognise what you are buying BUT how do you see it in the shop? There are 2 options.
Just drain & rinse … easy peasey.
This means a little amount of prep, but still an easy process.
Give the legumes a good rinse in a colander under cold running water& remove any discoloured or broken ones. Soak lentils overnight in acidic water (THINK lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, use approx. 2 tbspn acid : 1 cup lentils). Just leave covered in a bowl on the countertop. Not everyone does this, it is an optional step which has benefits twofold – it will reduce the cooking time & make digesting them loads easier. Sounds like a good deal to me!
Then, drain & rinse in fresh water. Tip into a pot with plenty of water & bring to the boil (skimming off any scum on the surface). Reduce the heat & simmer until tender. FYI: unsoaked approx. 15-20 min.
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