Lentils are grouped with beans and peas as part of the legume family because, like all legumes, they grow in pods. Lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They're also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber.
There are many types of lentils. However, the three most common varieties are brown, green and red. Most lentils come in dried form, although you may also find them in ready-to-eat packages. Most grocery stores carry brown lentils, which are also known as European lentils. Green and red lentils may be found at specialty food markets.
Here are some tips for choosing and preparing lentils:
Brown lentils. The least expensive, they hold their texture if properly cooked. They can stand in for black beans as a side dish or in a vegan burger. They also work well in soups.
Green lentils. Also called French lentils, these have a nuttier flavor and stay firm when cooked. Green lentils are the best choice for salads. Newer to markets are Beluga lentils, which are similar in texture to French lentils but are black in color.
Red lentils. The fastest cooking, these lose their shape and turn golden when cooked. They are milder and sweeter than green lentils. Use them for purees and Indian dals.
- Rinse your lentils with fresh water before boiling to remove any dust or debris.
- Cook on a stovetop, using 3 cups of liquid (water, stock, etc) to 1 cup of dry lentils. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size.
- Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender.
- For whole lentils, cook time is typically 15-20 minutes. For split red lentils, cook time is typically only about 5-7 minutes.
- Be sure to season with salt after cooking – if salt is added before, the lentils will become tough.
- Canned lentils are also another great time-saving option – just be sure to rinse them under fresh water for about one minute in order to reduce the sodium content.
- Lentils do not require soaking like other pulses.
Here are some helpful videos with more information:
Lentils to do not require soaking like other pulses.
Rinse your lentils with fresh water before boiling to remove any dust or debris.
Cook on a stovetop, using 3 cups of liquid (water, stock, etc) to 1 cup of dry lentils. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size.
Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender.
For whole lentils, cook time is typically 15-20 minutes. For split red lentils, cook time is typically only about 5-7 minutes.
Be sure to season with salt after cooking – if salt is added before, the lentils will become tough.
Canned lentils are also another great time-saving option – just be sure to rinse them under fresh water for about one minute in order to reduce the sodium content. How to Prep Canned Lentils
Transfer canned lentils to strainer or colander. Rinse under fresh water for one minute to reduce the sodium content by about 65%. How to Puree Lentils
Place cooked lentils into a food processor.
For every 1 cup of lentils, add ¼ cup of water.
Blend to make a smooth puree with a consistency that resembles canned pumpkin.
Add additional water 1 Tbsp at a time if more moisture is desired.
Puree can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.
Lentil puree can be added into your baking for added moisture and added nutrition. How to Sprout Lentils
Place the lentils in the mason jar. Cover the jars mouth with the screen then screw on the ring leaving the lid off and anchoring the mesh. Place the jar under a stream of cool running water and rinse for a minute or two. Fill the jar with water and rest overnight as the dried seeds absorb water and rehydrate.
In the morning drain the jar thoroughly and rinse the lentils with lots of water once again, but this time drain the works thoroughly and rest the mason jar on its side. You may not see it yet, but the lentils are starting to grow!
Twice a day rinse and drain the lentils, taking care not to leave them sitting in water. After just a day or so they will start to sprout! The whole process works best if the sprouts are not in direct sunlight, which tends to dry them out too much.
Continue rinsing and draining the lentils twice a day until the sprouts are about ½ inch long with small green leaves forming on the ends, about three to four days. When the sprouts are beautiful, remove the screen and replace the lid on the jar and store them in the fridge. They will keep for about a week, but that is no guarantee they will last that long! Differences in Varieties of Lentils
Try Experimenting With Lentils – The Possibilities Are Endless
You can switch up flavours by cooking lentils in different stocks versus plain water.
Split red lentils are best used in sauces, soups/stews, or pureed for use in batters and baked goods because with the seed coat removed they tend to blend more easily into foods.
Whole lentils still have their seed coat on and therefore retain their shape better when cooked, making them excellent for salads, lasagna, or paired with meat in burger recipes.
Time crunched? Prepare your lentils ahead of time, and portion into 1 cup servings in airtight containers – store in the freezer for up to three months, or in the refrigerator for up to one week.