Food

Lentils – An inexpensive nutritional powerhouse and yet eco friendly

January 16, 2016

Lentils are the world’s oldest cultivated legume, likely domesticated around 7000 BCE.

The lentil is Middle Eastern and Asian in origin and was one of the earliest cultivated crops. It is at least 10,000 years old, and in many countries, India in particular, it has long been an indispensable part of the diet. Lentils are nutritionally rich, full of protein, vitamin B, iron, and phosphorus.The Romans were connoisseurs of red lentils, which they imported from Egypt; lentils were a favourite food of Christians during periods of religious abstinence from animal products in the Middle Ages; Because it grew easily and was cheap, the lentil became known as the “poor man’s meat”.
Lens culinary, as the lentil is designated botanically, is a legume like peas and beans—a plant that yields edible seeds in a pod. In this case, the seeds are small and flat and the colour, depending on the species, ranges from flat black to iridescent orange. In harvesting, the vines are clipped and the lentils are left to dry in the pods for a week or two. The pods are then picked, the seeds separated, and the lentils sold either whole or decorticated—with the seed covering removed. Either kind is tender enough to be cooked without soaking, though decorticated lentils cook faster.

Not only are lentils and other pulses high in fiber, nutrients and protein, but their production is also much easier on the environment than meat and other protein-rich foods.A pound of lentils takes just 43 gallons of water to grow, compared with 216 gallons for soybeans and 368 gallons for peanuts, according to Food Tank, a nonprofit dedicated to global food security and nutrition.

Lentil production, in particular, emits the lowest level of greenhouse gases among common protein sources, including other dried beans, according to information from the Global Pulse Federation, the group promoting the U.N. initiative.

So let’s incorporate more lentils into our diets for better health and environment.

Common Types of Lentils

  1. Red lentils
    Red lentils are sometimes called red ‘split’ lentils. With colours ranging from gold to orange to actual red, these are the sweetest and nuttiest of the lentils. They’re somewhere in the middle in terms of cooking time and are usually done in about 30 minutes. They tend to get mushy when cooked through, so they’re perfect for Indian curries, or for thickening soups. A few varieties are Red Chief and Crimson, and you’ll often find them in Indian or Middle Eastern markets.
  2. Puy lentils or French green lentils
    Puy lentils are a type of green lentil and are small and dark with speckles. Grown in the volcanic soils of the Le Puy district in the Auvergne in central France for nearly the past two thousand years, Puy lentils offer exceptional quality, flavour, and nutritional content, most notably mineral contents and particularly iron and magnesium. As a source of anthocyanins, their dark colour, similar to that as found in blueberries and black grapes, provides valuable antioxidants. Look for the AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée) label to ensure authenticity. Because of this they are more expensive than other lentils.
    Known for their distinctive rich, peppery flavour, Puy lentils are traditionally served as a side dish, in salads, as a focal point in a meal, or even as a foundation for meat, fish, or game.These take about 30 minutes to cook and keep a certain degree of firmness. If a recipe requires Puy lentils and you can’t get your hands on any, just use brown or other types of green lentils instead.
  3. Green lentils
    Widely available, large, these can be pale or mottled green-brown in colour with a glossy exterior. They have a robust, somewhat peppery flavor. Green lentils generally take the longest to cook, upwards of 45 minutes, but they keep a firm texture even after cooking. This makes them ideal for salads and other side dishes.
  4. Brown lentils
    These are widely available in supermarkets and also known as brewers lentil. The colour can vary tremendously from light brown to almost black. Large and rich they have a lovely earthy flavour and also keep a firm texture after cooking. They take 25 – 30 minutes to cook.Common varieties are Spanish Brown, German Brown, or Indian Brown.Brown lentils are great to use as a meat substitute in meals that traditionally require mince – for example, Moussaka, lasagne and Shepherd’s pie. These tender beans are also easily mashed, which is why they have long been associated with making vegetarian meat loaf and burgers.
  5. Yellow lentils
    Yellow split lentils are often found in Asian shops and larger supermarkets. They are a little bit larger than red lentils taking about 20 minutes to cook. Sweet and nutty, yellow lentils break down quickly when cooked and are used as a thickening agent in many recipes, such as Indian dal.
  6. Black beluga lentils
    These are tiny black lentils that look remarkably like shiny, glistening caviar when cooked. Their rich, earthy flavour and soft texture is perfect in salads and soups or featured with pasta, rice, or sautéed vegetables. Not only does their deep black colour present a dramatic, striking contrast when cooked with a variety of colourful green and red vegetables, but it also indicates they are high in the antioxidant anthocyanin.
    Black beluga lentils are a little harder to find but can usually be bought from specialist food shops and larger supermarkets. They take 30-40 minutes to cook.

Hearty spinach and lentil soup – Vegetarian Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons regular olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups red or brown lentils, picked-over and rinsed
  • 10 cups vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • Large handful coriander, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, washed and chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Full-fat Greek-style yogurt

Method

  1. In large pot, sauté the onions in the olive oil (or organic coconut oil) until they start to soften.Turn heat down to medium-low and continue to cook until they start to caramelize, about another 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the garlic from burning.
  3. Add the cumin and cayenne, and stir to mix in well.
  4. Add lentils and 6 cups of vegetable stock and bring it to a boil.
  5. Once the soup starts to boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer until lentils are soft. About 30 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining stock as and when needed so that the liquid level stays an inch above the lentils while cooking. If you want a creamier soup, you can mash some of the lentils with a large stainless steel spoon once they are softened.
  7. Once the lentils have attained their desired softness, add the spinach and stir it in. Let it cook down for a bit but be careful not to overcook it.Turn off heat.
  8. Add the mint, coriander and lemon juice and stir it in.
  9. Taste and tweak with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls and garnish with dollop of Greek-style yogurt.

Lentil and sausage casserole – Non Vegetarian Recipe


(Adapted from Geoffrey smeddle campaign for the Sunday herald.)
Ingredients

  • 8 chicken sausages
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 180g of bacon/ pancetta, chopped
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 450ml of chicken stock
  • 1teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1teaspoon redcurrant jelly
  • 200g of lentils, dried
  • 2 tablespoon of half fat crème fraîche
  • 1tablespoon of wholegrain mustard
  • 4tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add the sausages and fry until browned all over. Cut into thin slices and set aside.
  2. Place a large casserole dish over a medium heat and add the rest of the oil. Once hot, add the garlic, onions and a pinch of salt.Fry until the onions are soft but not coloured, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the bacon, fennel, celery and carrot to the dish, add salt and pepper as needed and fry until all of the vegetables have softened. Then, stir in the thyme and sausages.
  4. Then add the lentils to the pan, turning them two or three times to coat them well and add the chicken stock. Bring the contents to a boil and reduce the heat so the lentils and vegetables simmer gently, stirring every now and then for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Ensure that the water level is always more or less about an inch above the lentils; replenish with as much water as needed.
  5. Once lentils have softened, stir in the balsamic vinegar and redcurrant jelly until fully incorporated and raise the heat and bring to a gentle boil. Once the desired consistency is reached remove the casserole from the heat and divide into bowls.
  6. Mix together the mustard and crème fraîche in a bowl.
  7. Serve immediately with a dollop of the mustard créme fraîche.

 

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83 Comments

  • Reply Kate Goodspeed on January 16, 2016 says;

    A beautiful post. You have outdone yourself in your thoughts and creativity.

    I love your 2 versions of the same recipe, giving the choice to your readers. This is innovation, and have not seen in any blogs in the internet so far.

    Love your style.. You are authentic!

  • Reply Toril on January 16, 2016 says;

    hot on its heels… excellent post. covers both vegetarians and non vegetarians. beautiful. saved to my notes

  • Reply Melissa J. Bailey on January 16, 2016 says;

    Not brusquely like how it is elsewhere. well composed and well written.

  • Reply Olivia on January 16, 2016 says;

    Hi there P, this is a fascinating post. I like how you have divided the post into 2 parts – about lentils and the recipes. Further, the recipes in 2 types.. You are amazing!

  • Reply Shayna M. from Detroit on January 16, 2016 says;

    Your blog, might not be this post though; is somewhere somehow teaching us our culture and values, that we have sadly forgotten. Herbals and Ayurveda are age old known mechanics for life. Now we see it as a secret untold, but its just that we have forgotten. I see this blog as some sought of a reprise to it.
    Wonderful post this one; Like how others mention, your thinking is definitely not in the normals kind. Keep up the good work.. will keep revisiting often.

  • Reply Aria on January 16, 2016 says;

    This recipe was so delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • Reply Teena on January 16, 2016 says;

    I feel obliged to comment on your wonderful recipes,your expertise in delivering concise and simple instructions for making great food. Moreover, you have very cleverly separated a vegetarian and a non vegetarian version.

    Love it!

  • Reply Zoe on January 16, 2016 says;

    I liked your spinach lentil soup. It is subtly different for a good morning breakfast!

  • Reply Beth on January 16, 2016 says;

    Absolutely yummy! I’m addicted to your website and will try to make all your recipes!
    Thank you for making it so easy to follow.

  • Reply Agnus D on January 16, 2016 says;

    Fantastic!! Quick, simple, easy.

    Many thanks

  • Reply Malvika Jaswal on January 16, 2016 says;

    I prepared your Lentil Vegetable Soup today and my family enjoyed it very much. The flavor was complex, though the recipe was easy!
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful dishes with us

  • Reply Madelyn Abigail on January 16, 2016 says;

    I just want to thank you for all your recepies my husband and son loves them very much, I’ve learned so much from your recepies and tips that don’t even believe how easy it is.
    You certainly have been born with great talents.

  • Reply Mary M on January 16, 2016 says;

    I love your all your recipes! Keep ‘em coming!

  • Reply Chanaka C on January 16, 2016 says;

    This soup is wonderful! It is a perfect blend of flavors. The squeezed fresh lemon juice adds just the right amount of tanginess…ta… yum it is..

    Thanks for your brilliant recipe.

  • Reply Trang Do on January 16, 2016 says;

    I am pressure cooking the soup right now to serve for lunch…I can’t wait to taste it..I am pretty sure, like all your recipes, this one too is a big hit!

  • Reply Alma on January 16, 2016 says;

    انت جميل. كل ما تبذلونه من وصفات لذيذة جدا.

  • Reply Tamika on January 16, 2016 says;

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I am going to make it for my family this weekend. It will be a perfect lunch.

  • Reply Vera Gottlieb on January 16, 2016 says;

    More for me, I love this soup very very much because it has a ton of flavor without being overwhelming, and very warm and rich for a winter’s eve.

  • Reply Shirley on January 16, 2016 says;

    This was a good soup. I followed the recipe as written.

  • Reply Camila on January 16, 2016 says;

    This was good. I made it because I had pretty much all of the ingredients on hand.

  • Reply Jasmine on January 16, 2016 says;

    awesome. I have cold and this soup was beyond perfect.

  • Reply Vicki from Kentucky on January 16, 2016 says;

    This was my first adventure cooking with lentils. Wow! I love how something so healthy can taste so good! Giving due respect for you…

  • Reply Courtney on January 16, 2016 says;

    Excellent Recipe!
    I love the division you have between the choice of veg and non-veg.. brilliant thinking.

  • Reply Beth on January 16, 2016 says;

    Excellent recipe…The flavors are terrific

  • Reply Mihaela V. on January 16, 2016 says;

    Great taste! subtle but complex flavours. Easy to make.

  • Reply thesandgal on January 16, 2016 says;

    This was VERY yummy! I will be making again for sure!

  • Reply Daniella S on January 16, 2016 says;

    This Lentil soup was very tasty. Lots of layered flavor. I did it exactly as the recipe suggested and it’s a favorite of mine.

  • Reply Katherine on January 16, 2016 says;

    Preparing dishes from your recipes until this one; has given me immense pleasure and happiness. Don’t know why and how we are connected, but it has a feeling of making everything while you are along-side of me.

    This one is another hit, just like your other recipes. And yes dear, the veg and the non-veg version is simply a stunning display of your cleverness. It simply invites all kind of “-terians” into your shop 🙂

  • Reply rain77 on January 16, 2016 says;

    This dish was super easy, flavorful, healthy, frugal 😀

    Thanks to share this recipe!

  • Reply Eva on January 16, 2016 says;

    This is sooooo good! The lemon is a great flavour… never thought of it.

  • Reply Allie B. Steiner on January 16, 2016 says;

    does anyone know if this recipe doubles well? I’d love to bring this to a party!

  • Reply Daniella S on January 16, 2016 says;

    This recipe was FABULOUS!!!! I have never cooked lentil soup before. I was searching for a high protein type soup without meat.

    I did share the recipe with all my foodie friends.

    Thanks for such precise information

  • Reply Gabriella on January 16, 2016 says;

    It was fast… Loved the soup without the meat… Nice post!

  • Reply Teresa on January 16, 2016 says;

    This was amazing, heavenly and delicious! Love all your posts..

  • Reply Veronica on January 16, 2016 says;

    Loved this recipe! Added a dash of cumin. Thinking about incorporating it into my soup diet, when I’m only eating soup

  • Reply Puja Santosh on January 16, 2016 says;

    Hi dear. How are you? Its been some time.

    But I’m keeping up with your blog. I love this recipe of yours. I love the spinach soup. The recipe is running in my mind now. This should be part of my cooking schedule tomorrow. I enjoy trying out everything that you do.

    Are you doing any more of Spa kind of series?

  • Reply Dipti on January 16, 2016 says;

    do you have nutrition facts on this one? The recipe is very inviting.

  • Reply May on January 16, 2016 says;

    I love a lentil soup and can’t wait to try this one out.

  • Reply Thelma J. Godfrey on January 16, 2016 says;

    Do you have a compiled cookbook of yours? Are you authoring one? Will order it!

  • Reply Patricia on January 16, 2016 says;

    This is a winner. Perfect for a winter evening!

  • Reply Leela Harris on January 16, 2016 says;

    Awesome recipe, my roommate and I love cooking this. Thanks for sharing this one.

  • Reply marilyn hirsch on January 16, 2016 says;

    This soup, as every recipe of yours I’ve tried is outstanding, easy to make and delicious. Absolutely, positively outstanding! 10 star worthy 🙂

  • Reply Karen M. Moore on January 16, 2016 says;

    A friend just introduced me to this blog, and I’m hooked! I was really excited to see you post your version of this. I viewed other, more complicated recipes, but yours was absolutely fantastic.

  • Reply Ksenia on January 16, 2016 says;

    Your recipes are well-loved, well-used, and well-trusted in my kitchen!

  • Reply Fabienne on January 16, 2016 says;

    Once again another great recipe. I just love, love, love your recipes.

  • Reply Ursula on January 16, 2016 says;

    The breakdown of your recipe to 2 versions is a marvellous idea. All your recipes are fun to do.

  • Reply Leah Lothe on January 16, 2016 says;

    This is a fabulous, easy soup.Keep the recipes coming!

  • Reply Hanah on January 16, 2016 says;

    I knew when I saw this recipe, I would have to try it immediately. It is absolutely amazing, and it conquers all!

  • Reply Grace on January 16, 2016 says;

    Absolutely delicious and I’m not a big fan of lentils! Thanks for providing this lovely recipe!

    This blog is unique

  • Reply J. Elliott on January 16, 2016 says;

    I have to say this is the best spinach lentil soup I have ever had.I seldom find anything I am this happy about.

    Thanks with gratitude

  • Reply Molly on January 16, 2016 says;

    The variety of the choice you gave is impressive. I have not seen any other blogger who writes with such a style

  • Reply Isabella on January 16, 2016 says;

    You write recipes for the soul 🙂
    This is such a beautiful soup – The yogurt topping is a great idea.

  • Reply Cheri Roberts on January 16, 2016 says;

    wow, this is just gorgeous!! love the flavors too!

    Hope you are enjoying your week end.

  • Reply Quintana on January 16, 2016 says;

    Your blog touches my visceral. Excellent, well thought post

  • Reply Thalia on January 16, 2016 says;

    this soup look delicious! loving the look of all the rich flavours in the ingredients list. definitely need to try the recipe, will be perfect for the winter weather here in Australia!

  • Reply Maria S on January 16, 2016 says;

    I’ve just discovered your blog and i really love it! if you have a chance to take a look at my blog I will be happy!

  • Reply Rachel Cotterill on January 16, 2016 says;

    Is there anything better in this world than what you have posted? This is lovely. Nice write-up

  • Reply Darcy McIntyre on January 16, 2016 says;

    This dish both the vegetarian and the no-vegeterain looks excellent. I’m going to have this done this evening, pronto.

    Many thanks to have this published for general viewers.

  • Reply Jyotsana on January 16, 2016 says;

    great recipe and looks delicious; best for the winter….

  • Reply Valeria Bedoya on January 16, 2016 says;

    Oh this looks so healthy and tasty. very inspiring.
    Like the flow of all your posts… they pull you in to read from start to end. It is no boring story.

  • Reply Wendy R. on January 16, 2016 says;

    This lentil soup seems to be a verry good mixture of traditional and extraordinary ingredients. this dish – absolutely yummy!

  • Reply Anjalee on January 16, 2016 says;

    Your website is so fancy! I am impressed. It has so much of wealthy information. I seem to have hit a gold mine..

  • Reply Meera Manohar on January 16, 2016 says;

    brilliant.. always been one of my favourite, I have cooked exactly the same, and it tastes so good. I couldn’t believe myself, that I prepared it. Thank you so much for such a lovely post. First time in your blog, and have not struggled to do this at all. First attempt and the miracle happened…. I can cook… :p

  • Reply José Cerqueira on January 16, 2016 says;

    What is not to like? Everything is so precisely laid out. Explained very well..

  • Reply Fifine Dupuy on January 16, 2016 says;

    The saga of this blog is authentic! You have fantastic posts out here…

  • Reply jules on January 16, 2016 says;

    Your guidance is so helpful to me. I love this recipe.

  • Reply Angie on January 16, 2016 says;

    Wow, that’s kinda staple in our home today! Its so great to see you share the recipe.
    That’s what everyone’s getting for dinner today in my house

  • Reply 4seasonsoffood on January 16, 2016 says;

    That soup looks yummy and nourishing. I’m curious to try it. have been searching for this.

  • Reply Dorothy on January 16, 2016 says;

    Spinach is good with just about everything. Will be making this soon, thanks

  • Reply Eliska on January 16, 2016 says;

    your soup will grace our dinner table soon 🙂
    I’m sure its going to be a happy meal…

  • Reply Naina on January 16, 2016 says;

    Thank you so much for sharing and for letting us be a part of your kitchen!

    I must say, you should publish a book. A book of some daily life recipes and healthy and nutritious. Think about it!

    Thanks again

  • Reply Carla on January 16, 2016 says;

    Going to go dig out my lentils now. This is a wonderful recipe. Love it

  • Reply Gwen on January 16, 2016 says;

    I think I’m in love. With this recipe. With this blog. With you for providing such helpful detail!

  • Reply Katie on January 16, 2016 says;

    I have been on the search for a good lentil recipe. I have bags of them but never know what to do with them!

    I’m going to try out what you posted. I’m sure I’m going to love it. Thanks

  • Reply Marine Gougeon on January 17, 2016 says;

    Love your blog and the post!…
    Its amazing to see 2 versions for the same.

    Thanks

  • Reply Teri on January 17, 2016 says;

    Hey P,

    I love your post! I tried this yesterday, and it came out very well. Had a great fragrance around for a while..

  • Reply Abbie Haynes on January 17, 2016 says;

    Awesome post for something that which is everyday. Simple yet an effective one. Best for the winter evening

    Abbie H

  • Reply Kayleigh Cook on January 17, 2016 says;

    uncommon post, and an uncommon blog. just bumped into this blog while searching for lentils. I thought it was another blog, but then I see this totally different. I read most of your posts; and you have maintained your consistency of your class everywhere. Perfect, well done; keep up this good work.

    all the very best

  • Reply Quenby on January 17, 2016 says;

    Beautiful post P, you have a beautiful blog as well..

    awaiting for your next one

  • Reply Wilma on January 17, 2016 says;

    Well thought, well written and well laid out. This recipe could be there out everywhere, but what makes this one different, is the way you have put yourself in the readers shoes. The choice that you put out there is very clever thinking.

  • Reply Onyz on January 17, 2016 says;

    This is an amazing blog. I read each and every post of yours and it took a week to finish. Not only read, but tried all your recipes including this one. My family has loved everything that I have tried from here. Thanks for your wonderful blog. love you.

  • Reply Ljerka Matić on January 17, 2016 says;

    A new found blog. and also a new addiction. simple web-blog with lots of niche recipes… love it in totality.

    gratitude to you,

    bless
    Ljerka M

  • Reply Vanessa Ostermann on January 17, 2016 says;

    simply fascinating. i tried the spinach soup and it tastes wonderful! Loved it so much.

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