This legume is loaded with fiber and protein.
Lentil is native to Southwest Asia and is probably the oldest cultivated legume. This grain is a small and humble legume that has a great impact on both flavor and nutrients, in addition to being easy to use.
As for nutrition, lentils are loaded with fiber and protein. With 12 grams of protein in 1/2 cup, lentils are an excellent meat replacement when combined with a whole grain item. They are also rich in folic acid, potassium, and iron. As for versatility, lentils can be used in dishes, from omelets and salads to soups and rice.
Lentils come in a variety of colors and sizes, including black, green, yellow, red, and brown. Some lentils are best for soups, while others shine as a garnish or salad.
- Brown lentils are the most common variety: they are inexpensive and readily available. They do not hold their shape as well as French or black lentils. Use them in soups, curries, or use them as a meat substitute on lentil bread.
- Greens are similar to brown lentils with a slightly spicy flavor.
- French (de Puy) greens are slightly firmer than other green lentils, and are grown in France. Because they keep their shape well, they are an excellent choice for salads and soups.
- Red and yellow lentils are often used in the cuisine of the Middle East and India. You can find whole or divided red and yellow lentils. The flavor of these lentils is slightly sweet and they become quite mild when cooked. Its smooth texture can also act as a thickener.
- Black beluga lentils hold their shape well and resemble caviar.
How to cook lentils on the stove
Before cooking, rinse the lentils and discard small stones, bad lentils, and other debris.
Soak if you like, but since lentils cook so quickly, there’s no need. Most varieties cook in 20 to 30 minutes. However, an overnight bath in cold water will cut the cooking time in half.
For cooking, cover the lentils with plenty of water or broth, about 3 cups for each cup of dried lentils. Lentils swell in size, but do not absorb extra water; just drain when finished. Once the liquid boils, cover the pan and reduce the heat to a smooth boil. Slow-cooked lentils maintain their integrity; they will split and crumble if boiled too quickly.
Lentils lend themselves flavors that you add to the pot. Instead of running water, cook the lentils in broth or vegetable or meat broth, and add aromatics. Garlic, fresh herbs, some sliced onions or browned shallots, and a bay leaf can turn lentils into a great garnish.
Basic time guide
- Brown and green lentils: 20 to 30 minutes.
- French green lentils: 25 to 35 minutes
- Red and yellow lentils: 15 to 20 minutes.
- Beluga black lentils: 20 to 25 minutes
In general, the longer you cook the lentils, the softer they will become. If you want your lentils to bite down a bit, such as in a salad or garnish, remove them early. If they are going to act as thickeners, cook them longer.
Cooking time and texture also depend on the variety and age of the lentils. The hardness of the water and the acidic ingredients can also make a difference.