Lentils are extremely versatile, tasty, easy to cook and very filling and should be a pantry essential. People seem to be afraid of them! Lentils classed as a Pulses – A pulse is an edible seed that grows in a pod which includes beans, lentils, and peas.
Lentils make an inexpensive, convenient and a healthy alternative to animal sources of protein and fiber. Whatever colour you chose they have of calcium, phosphorus, iron and Vitamin B. And they’re all extremely low in fat and sodium. They also count towards your recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.
Lentils can be bought dried, ready to eat, in a can. The type of lentil you choose will depend on intended usage:
They also keep a firm texture but take a bit longer to cook
Cooking: 40 + minutes
Brown: lovely earthy flavour and also retain their shape and firm texture after cooking. These cook quickly, making them a good choice for a simple side dish
Ideal for warm salads, casseroles and stuffing as they.
Cooking: 25 – 30 minutes
Brown and green lentils are great to use as a meat substitute for meals that traditionally require mince.
Puy lentils: peppery taste – These grey-green lentils, grown in the French region of Le Puy, are often more expensive than other common cooking varieties and are thought to be superior in texture (which they retain after cooking) and taste. This makes them the perfect accompaniment to more expensive ingredients such as fish and game, as well as sausages.
Red split lentils: When cooked these lentils form a rich puree and therefore are superb for thickening dishes such as soups and casseroles. They are also often cooked with spices to make the Indian side dish, dhal.
Yellow lentils: Being quite similar to Red Split lentils, the yellow variety are used in a similar way and are great for adding colour to winter dishes.
Cooking: 20 minutes
Red and yellow – Small split lentils with a tendency to break down during cooking. Great for making thick soups or dal, an Indian lentil stew usually served with rice
Lentils do not require it but can be soaked in order to reduce cooking time by about half.
Before cooking, rinse lentils in cold water, pick over to remove debris or shrivelled lentils and then drain.