The little but mighty lentil is a nutrient powerhouse that stars in soups, salads, side dishes, and more. Learn how to fix this effortless legume.
Lentils have long been essential to cuisines in the Middle East and India and popular in Europe as well. Now these legumes are being recognized in the United States for the super food that they are. Nutritionally, lentils are an excellent source of folate and a good source of fiber, protein, iron, and potassium. One of the advantages of lentils over dry beans is that they require no soaking and cook in 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the variety and desired doneness.
Three common varieties of lentils are shown above and described here, but there are other varieties, too, including yellow, green, and black lentils.
How to Buy and Store Lentils
How to Cook Lentils
Tip: You can replace some of the water with chicken broth or vegetable broth. For additional flavor, consider adding 1/2 cup chopped onion, minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a bay leaf, and/or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed, to the cooking liquid along with the lentils. If using, remove the bay leaf before serving.
For Lentil Salad: Cook brown or French lentils as directed until just tender (do not cook too long or the lentils will be mushy in the salad). Cool completely. Toss with desired vegetables, such as chopped tomatoes, sliced green onion, sliced and quartered cucumber, and/or chopped carrot. Toss with enough vinaigrette, such as bottled balsamic vinaigrette, to moisten. If desired, toss in crumbled feta cheese, sliced olives, and/or snipped fresh basil. Cover and chill for 1 to 24 hours before serving.
For Lentil Soup: When using lentils in soup, add the uncooked lentils to the soup and cook about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.