Lentils are one of nature’s power foods. They’re filled with iron, protein, and fiber, and therefore are superfilling — not to mention healthy. One serving of lentils provides more protein than a serving of steak. They’re also pretty inexpensive. And if all that is not enough, they’re also easy to cook. You don’t have to soak them overnight as you do with other beans. You just toss them into a pot, add some water and they’re done in about 25-30 minutes.
Lentils are a widely eaten staple food throughout the Middle East and India, as well as used in many European recipes. There are many different types, including yellow, pink, red, and black varieties. However, the most common in North America are the green variety. Occasionally, I will cook a pot and store in the refrigerator for a few days’ worth of lunches or dinners.
There are many ways to cook with lentils. They are a good substitute for meat and can replace part or all of the meat in a burger or meatloaf. They can also make a nice creamy dip – throw a cup or two of lentils in a food processor with a little olive oil, garlic, spices (cumin and chili powder are nice here) and other veggies and spread on toasted pita bread.
If your experience with lentils is limited to just soup, try a salad:
Lentil, Tomato and Feta Salad
- 1 cup green lentils
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (or grape tomatoes, halved)
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- 6 0z feta cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup fresh mint
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes – don’t overcook. Drain and cool the lentils in a colander.
Place the lentils in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Add a couple of pinches of salt and a pinch or two of pepper to taste.