Lentils are a small round pulse (part of the legume family) and a staple ingredient in many recipes throughout South Asia, West Asia and the Mediterranean. They’re inexpensive, versatile and super healthy.
Lentils are an inexpensive way of getting a wide range of nutrients. They’re low in fat, packed with B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron and potassium. They are made up of over 25% protein, which makes them an excellent meat alternative. Lentils are high in fibre, which supports regular bowel movements and the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Eating lentils can increase your stool weight and improve your overall gut function.
You can store them for up to a year, which makes them a great pantry staple.
You'll find a dozen varieties of Lentils and they all have their purpose.
- Green lentils have a slightly peppery flavour and maintain a medium to firm texture. That makes them perfect for salads and side dishes.
- Red and yellow lentils are often sold split, cook fast and have a sweeter flavour. Since they soften up to the point of a puree, they are ideal for making soups.
- Brown lentils are the most command and easy to find. They have a mild flavour and hold their shape well, making them versatile for many recipes.
- French green or Lentils de Puy are green lentils exclusively grown in France and have a slightly firmer texture than Green lentils.
- Black lentils have a rich earthy flavour and are so tiny and shiny that they look very similar to caviar (hence their nickname beluga lentils)
What is the best way to cook them?
- Rinse the lentils in a fine-mesh sieve under the faucet. Inspect the lentils and remove any bad lentils or small stones.
- Put the lentils in a pan (with lid) with cold salted water and turn on the heat.
- The moment your water cooks, drain the lentils and refresh them under cold water or briefly in a bowl with ice water.
- Add new water/ vegetable stock in your pan and bring to a boil. For every cup of lentils, add 4 cups of liquid.
- Throw in the cold lentils and a bay leaf.
- Reduce to a very low simmer, cover and set your timer for 18-25 minutes. The cook time will vary slightly based on the variety:
- Green Lentils: 18-20 minutes
- Lentils de Puy and black lentils: 25-30 minutes
- Brown Lentils: 20-25 minutes
The lentils will shine, have kept their shape and are a bit crispy. They are tastiest this way!