Lentils are great for your vegetarian and vegan companions. They are cheap, delicious and easy to make. They can be served as a side dish, pureed into thick soups, and added to stews and grain dishes. They're also great in salads. Lentils are a cousin of beans. They are both legumes, the seeds that grow within pods. Where they're grown and how they're processed determines their color, flavor and cooking time. Here are the ones you're most likely to find:
How to Select
Green lentils: Often called French lentils: Sold with the seed coat on, they are grayish brown outside and creamy inside.
Red lentils: Sometimes called Egyptian lentils, they are small, round and have an orange-red tone.
Spanish pardina lentils: Tiny and brown, they have a nutty flavor and hold their shape when cooked.
Lentils boast a modest 130 calories per (dry) 1/4-cup serving. They contain only a trace of fat and no cholesterol or sodium. But this small serving provides 44 percent of the RDA for dietary fiber, and a whopping 90 percent of your daily need for folate. Lentils contain more folate than any other unfortified food. They are also a good source of iron and phosphorus, and also contain significant amounts of protein, calcium and vitamin A.
How to Prepare:
• Fairly firm texture with a subtle but characteristic taste
• Lentils adore parsley, garlic, oil, soy sauce, yogurt, etc.
• Do not require soaking
• Allow 30 to 60 minutes cooking time for brown lentils
• Reduce cooking time to 15-20 minutes for orange lentils
Basic Lentil cooking
Lentils are easy to cook. Follow these simple steps:
1. Pour them into a sieve, remove any debris, and rinse them under cold running water.
2. Place the lentils in a saucepan with enough water to cover by 1/2-inch.
3. Cover the pan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the variety. They should be cooked through and satiny, not hard or mushy.