Not only are lentils an amazing source of protein, but cooking them is super-easy! Unlike beans, lentils don’t need any pre-soaking and have the added advantage of cooking quickly.
Low in fat and high in protein, iron and fiber, lentils make a healthy and tasty staple for vegetarian diets. With just one cup, they provide over 35% of your required protein and iron intake, as well as 60% of your daily fiber. This is tremendous, since not only do they keep you feeling full for longer, they also aid in digestion, help lower cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar (good news for decreasing the risk of heart disease!). Plus with all that iron, they help deliver oxygen to your body giving you a healthy boost of energy. Great reasons to start loving your lentils!
Lentils aren’t meant to be eaten naked. They have a mild, often earthy flavor, and are best cooked with more assertive flavorings—they can take a LOT.
There are so many different types of lentils, available in a rainbow of colors, from the most common green or brown, to yellow, orange, red and even beautiful, glistening, tiny black Beluga lentils.
The finest, most delicate are the robust, peppery French green lentils (look for Lentilles du Puy, Puy lentils). Ideal for salads, they maintain a firm texture and hold their shape well, but take longer to cook than other varieties.
The milder brown lentils, on the other hand can quickly turn mushy if overcooked, so be sure to taste them as they cook to see if they’re the consistency you want.
Red split or yellow lentils (called dal) fall apart when they’re cooked and are often used in soups.
Cook lentils as you would pasta—in an abundance of water.
Bring the liquid to a boil, add your lentils, then turn down your heat to a simmer for at least 25-30 minutes, depending on the type. Don’t forget to taste them along the way, to make sure you get the consistency you are aiming for. NOTE: It’s important to use unsalted water, as salt hardens and toughens lentils. Plus they will cook more slowly (same goes with acidic ingredients, so add these last). But go ahead, add an onion, or garlic or herbs to the mix.
|For 1 cup of dry lentils||Whole Lentils||Split Lentils|
|Water needed:||2½ to 3 cups||2 cups|
|Cooking time:||20 to 30 mins||5 to 15 mins|
|Final yield:||2½ cups cooked||2 cups cooked|