Versatile & Nutritious Lentils!
Lentils are easy to cook, versatile and make for nutritious, hearty cooked meals all year round. I and my Greek husband eat lentils, at least once or twice a week; in salads seasoned with our favorite herbs and spices, in soups and various types of casseroles and pasta dishes.
Although small in size, nutritionally, lentils are often called the mighty members of the legume family. They are rich in iron, protein and fiber and have been an essential part of our daily diets for thousands of years. Actually, lentils are believed to have been one of the first foods to have ever been cultivated and are known to have been consumed since prehistoric times.
Lentils are classified according to their size, small or large and they are available at most neighborhood supermarkets or local farmers’ markets in many different varieties and colors.
In Greece, I enjoy stocking up on my supplies from small vegetable markets where, among other pulses, you will mostly find the green or brown lentils commonly used for Greek lentil soup . . . and if you are lucky, some great yellow lentil fava from Santorini.
Generally speaking I love all pulses but green or brown lentils are true favorites. These natural wonders keep their shape after cooking and have a hearty dense nutty flavor which makes them ideal for a scrumptious and colorful lentil luncheon salad that will also help stabilize your blood sugar level and provide much-needed energy to keep you going all day long!
Lentils can be prepared the same day of serving since they do not need any pre-soaking.
Always rinse lentils well before cooking and remove any possible stones or debris.
To boil lentils, use 3 cups of water to 1 cup of lentils. Place lentils together with a bay leaf in already boiling water, bring to boil again and then lower temperature and allow to simmer for about 30 – 35 minutes. Don’t add salt, bouillon cubes or seasoning until dried lentils are tender or pretty much cooked as salt toughens their skins. Once cooked “enhance” with aromatics, olive oil and fresh herbs of choice.
Keep lentils in air-tight containers and store in a cool dry place.
It’s always best to use your lentils within a year of purchase
If you purchase dry lentils at different times, store them separately as each batch may vary in dryness and need different cooking times.
Cooked lentils, like all pulses, freeze well so get into the habit of cooking more than you need and store in the freezer. It saves you a lot of cooking time!