There’s a lot more to lentils than meets the eye. These tiny little pulses (aka ‘grain legumes’) have been eaten for around 10,000 years according to archaeologists, and there’s good reason for that.
Often found in soups or combined with rice, lentils are popular in many cuisines around the world because they are inexpensive but provide plenty of essential nutrition. They’re high in protein, fiber, iron, zinc, folate, potassium and B vitamins. Just ¾ cup of cooked lentils gives you more potassium than a large banana, 13g of protein and about 12g of fiber.
International Lentil Love
Lentils come in a variety of colors and sizes and are extremely versatile in cooking. The plump, blue-green French variety is often used to make soups and warm salads seasoned with shallots, garlic and herbs. In India, they’re referred to as ‘dal’ and are often cooked into curries and hearty stews with turmeric and other Indian spices. In the Middle East, brown lentils are served with rice and topped fried onions in a dish called ‘mujaddara’. In Canada, which is the number one exporter of lentils in the world, they’re often used as a base for vegetarian burger patties
How to Eat Your Lentils
Is your mouth watering yet?! If you’re unfamiliar with how to incorporate these wonder-pulses into your diet, here are a few suggestions:
- Dense, plump pearls of cooked French lentils add excellent texture and heartiness to salads.
- Cooked lentils (especially red ones) can be easily pureed into thick and creamy soups, or left whole to add texture to stews.
- Pureed lentils also make a great base for your next batch of homemade veggie dip or sandwich spread.
- Lentils make a hearty, filling replacement for ground beef in burger and meatloaf recipes.
- You can roast cooked lentils with your favorite spices for a high-protein, crunchy snack or salad topper.
Easy Roasted Lentil Recipe
Who doesn’t love a crunchy, savory snack? Lentils make it even better with their excellent nutritional value.
- 2 cups cooked French lentils (canned or DIY)
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¾ tsp salt and pepper
- Other seasoning ideas: curry powder, chili pepper flakes, oregano, smoked paprika… experiment with your favorites!
Preheat oven to 400° F. Mix cooked lentils with oil and seasonings. Spread onto parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until crispy, stirring halfway through. Devour after cooling or store in an airtight container.