Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Food Fact: Lentils

I've had a request for Lentils...so here they are.

Food: Lentils
History: Part of the legume family. Humans have been cultivating lentils since ancient times. They originated in central Asia. Ancient Rome used to import entire shiploads of lentils from Egypt. Lentils have been part of staple diets for centuries.
Nutritional Benefit: Great source of vegetable protein. Like many other legumes, lentils are high in dietary fiber and folate, which makes them heart healthy.
Best Ways to Cook: Lentils do not need to be soaked like beans as they will soften in about 30 minutes of boiling water. Adding acidic substances such as lemon juice or tomatoes will greatly increase the cooking time so if the recipe calls for acidic items add them at the end or after the cooking process. If you are boiling the lentils in water you want a three to one ratio of water to lentils.

I'm honestly not a very avid Lentil cooker so I can't specifically tell you any way that I've had unbelievable success in cooking them. Remember that this is an ongoing learning process for me too:) I've included some links to a few lentil recipes that I think look good and plan on trying myself.

Egyptian Lentil Stew
Indian Dhal
Lentil Salad with Tomato and Dill

8 comments:

elizfranklin said...

Another pretty delicious lentil recipe...

Curried Lentil Stew w/ Pumpkin
Serves 6-8

2 TBS oil
2 TBS cumin seed, ground
1 TBS coriander, ground
1 TBS curry powder
3 cups red lentils
1 can of diced tomatoes with juices
6-7 cups water
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (fresh pumpkin is really good too, adds more texture)


1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium high heat
2. Add cumin seed until you can smell the aroma (careful not to burn cumin seed)
3. Add coriander and curry powder and heat 1 minute
4. Add red lentils and stir in oil and spices
5. Add canned tomatoes and 6 cups of water
6. Cover pot and bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer
7. Cook 25 minutes until stew thickens
8. Add canned pumpkin and cook 10 more minutes
9. Add more water as needed for desired thickness

Michaela Hogue said...

Follow the recipe on the bag or box and add extra olive oil and let it cook. This way if you are unsure how long it takes, you won't have to worry about the lentils burning. Also, I hate using a spoon for lentils. Instead I use a fork. To me, they can be delicate like Cous Cous. Gently fluff the lentils. Also.....I like to add spices to the lentils while they are in the water. Curry is the best, but not everyone likes curry. Enjoy!

Garrett said...

That recipe looks good. I like the pumpkin at the end...yum. No doubt I'm going to try it.

Good idea on the extra olive oil. I love Curry.

Teresa said...

Hey Garrett,
Well, being vegetarian (99% vegan) I find it wonderful that you spotlighted lentils. (I know that meat (along with all else) is big in Texas, but it's good to that the other protein sources are mentioned. Even where I live in Central Virginia, home to Joel Salatin's farm & some of the top organic meat farms in the US, I still get tears in my eye each time I pass the farms & see the well-treated, free grazing cows eating. Even though reared w/ humane treatment they still end up being killed.)

Anyway, back to lentils. They are a wonderful food source, and as you cited, cook quickly. They can be pureed & used to thicken other dishes and add protein.

This morning at my Masters practice (first on in a month due to the snow) I was thinking of your cooking adventures since I had made amaranth for breakfast. I, too, frequently have buckwheat or quinoa as a hot breakfast cereal. They are high in protein & other minerals & are a break fro oatmeal. (BTW, I owe you a quinoa recipe.)

Congratulations on making your own pasta! Isn't it fabulous to make??!! I make all my pasta (all shapes and sizes) & will send some of my recipes to you. (Oooouuu! You must make homemade ravioli!) Nothing compares to homemade pasta. You can make flavored pastas by adding herbs, tomato paste, garlic, etc. to the dough. The possibilities are endless (and, delicious!).

And, I need to get some sourdough starter to you for baking breads! (If I take some starter to Octagon's McLean offices would they send it to you? DC is my hometown so I frequently go to visit my family.)

Thanks for taking such good care of the younger swimmers. It must be awesome for them to have an Olympic gold medalist make dinner for them!!! You truly represent the best of swimming. You are a blessing to the sport.

Well, I've got to get back in shape. I was dragging in the middle of practice this morning. My sprints felt as if I were swimming in slow motion!

Teresa said...

Hey Garrett,
Well, being vegetarian (99% vegan) I find it wonderful that you spotlighted lentils. (I know that meat (along with all else) is big in Texas, but it's good to that the other protein sources are mentioned. Even where I live in Central Virginia, home to Joel Salatin's farm & some of the top organic meat farms in the US, I still get tears in my eye each time I pass the farms & see the well-treated, free grazing cows eating. Even though reared w/ humane treatment they still end up being killed.)

Anyway, back to lentils. They are a wonderful food source, and as you cited, cook quickly. They can be pureed & used to thicken other dishes and add protein.

This morning at my Masters practice (first on in a month due to the snow) I was thinking of your cooking adventures since I had made amaranth for breakfast. I, too, frequently have buckwheat or quinoa as a hot breakfast cereal. They are high in protein & other minerals & are a break fro oatmeal. (BTW, I owe you a quinoa recipe.)

Congratulations on making your own pasta! Isn't it fabulous to make??!! I make all my pasta (all shapes and sizes) & will send some of my recipes to you. (Oooouuu! You must make homemade ravioli!) Nothing compares to homemade pasta. You can make flavored pastas by adding herbs, tomato paste, garlic, etc. to the dough. The possibilities are endless (and, delicious!).

And, I need to get some sourdough starter to you for baking breads! (If I take some starter to Octagon's McLean offices would they send it to you? DC is my hometown so I frequently go to visit my family.)

Thanks for taking such good care of the younger swimmers. It must be awesome for them to have an Olympic gold medalist make dinner for them!!! You truly represent the best of swimming. You are a blessing to the sport.

Well, I've got to get back in shape. I was dragging in the middle of practice this morning. My sprints felt as if I were swimming in slow motion!

elizfranklin said...

Just an FYI- something is missing from the recipe.. but I'm not sure what. It wasn't as flavorful as it was the first time. So be prepared to tweak it, maybe add a sour component or more heat/spice.

Lauren said...

Hi Garrett-
Here's the recipe I use for my lentil soup. It is adapted from a recipe Ina Garten published in her "Barefoot Contessa Cookbook":

• 1 pound French green lentils
• 4 cups chopped yellow onions
• 4 cups chopped leeks (white part only)
• 3 cloves minced garlic
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 3 cups chopped carrots
• 3 quarts chicken stock
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain. In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the carrots and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Add the red wine vinegar and serve hot.


Like I said, nothing fancy, but really good - give it a try sometime :)
-Lauren (Sink or Swim: laurenswims.blogspot.com)

psyko said...

Salut! I LOVE lentils...they go in everything, soups, salads, stews(try adding a handful of red lentils at the end of the cooking process of a beef stew, it's a great thickener and adds MORE proteins!), stirfrys, curry,etc.
Here's a good squash soup:

1 medium summer squash
1/2-1 cup RED lentils
1 big onion
2 cloves galic
1 branch celeri
1 big carrot
chicken or veg. stock(3-4cups, you be the judge...)
1tsp. coriandre seeds.
1tsp.fennel seeds.
craked black pepper(1/2 tsp, or more if youlike it hotter...)

In a motor&pestle or spice grinder(NOT the one you use for coffee...), crush the coriandre, fennel and pepper.
Cut the squash in 4,get rid of the seeds, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with coriandre, fennel,and pepper mix( a little salt helps, too, but you don't have to..;-)). Roast in in a 400 deg. oven for about 30 minutes(might be more), or until it's tender.
Let it cool and peel it, cut in cubes.
Meanwhile, sautee all the other veggies in olive oil for about 5 minutes, add the stock. Simmer....When it's almost cooked add the red lentils. When the lentils are disintegrated add the squash, if you need more liquid, do it! Or if you want to be greedy you can add a little milk or, dare I say, c..r..e....a....m.....!!
Blend everything in batches so it gets really nicely pureed, I usually pass it twice in the blender. It turns into velvet, i swear!
Now since you can make your own bread(!) I would imagine you'd get a nice piece of that on the side and ENJOY!!
Ok, so I hope you get to love lentils, they're really awsome.
Peace out.
Laurie xx :)


Blogspot Template by Isnaini Dot Com