Lentils are an affordable, nutritious food source with many uses in cooking and baking recipes as a convenient replacement for rice.
Brown lentils, the most commonly found variety in grocery stores (any bag that simply says “lentils”), cook up firm without becoming mushy when heated up in water. Other varieties include green, French (puy), and black lentils.
1. In soups
One of the easiest ways to incorporate lentils into your diet is through soups and stews, where their fast cooking times allow for quick healthy meal prep time. In fact, due to their ease of digestion and high nutrient content, lentils make an excellent everyday pantry staple and are often available at most grocery stores as bulk bin products at great value.
There are various varieties of lentils, with brown, green and red/yellow being the most frequently found varieties in American supermarkets. Of these three lentils, red/yellow lentils are the most versatile; their mild flavor allowing it to absorb spices & flavors quickly & easily – perfect as side dishes as well as main courses such as lentil burgers or salads!
French green lentils (called puy lentils) can also be found at certain retailers. These smaller and rounder lentils feature a subtle nutty taste and maintain their shape well when cooked, making them great for use in soups.
Make lentil soup by sauteeing aromatics in olive oil before adding rinsed and dried lentils along with desired vegetables and liquid. Bring this soup up to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 30-40 minutes or until all ingredients are tender; use an immersion blender if available to create an even smoother texture.
Canned lentils usually contain an excess of salt; to cut back on unnecessary intake, look for low sodium varieties instead. Keep in mind that for every cup of dried rice your recipe requires, nearly twice that amount in cooked lentils will be necessary.
2. In stews
An intimidating bag of dry lentils may appear intimidating at first, especially when you discover them sitting idle in your pantry weeks later. With some research and initiative however, lentils can become versatile tools in many dishes; unlike beans which need to be soaked beforehand for cooking purposes, these lens-shaped seeds cook quickly and make great additions to stews and soups.
This protein-packed lentil stew is an easy and quick weeknight dinner solution, combining lentils and vegetables. Perfect for families or single people on the move, its prep and 40 minute cook times will provide nutritious nourishment without hassle.
Start by rinsing the lentils under cold water and picking out any non-lentil debris like pebbles or dirt, before placing in a large pot with enough liquid (water or broth) almost covering them and seasoning with kosher salt to retain their shape and reduce cooking time by nearly half.
Based on your lentil type, adding flavorings to the cooking liquid may add depth and intrigue to the final dish. A quartered onion, bay leaf or bundle of herbs will all enhance its delicious taste for maximum satisfaction!
This easy rice and lentil dish offers healthy side dish or light vegetarian main. Packed with Mediterranean flavors, it makes an ideal healthy lunch or weekend picnic snack!
3. In casseroles
Lentils’ hearty texture makes them an excellent ingredient to incorporate into casseroles, where they can serve as an easy replacement for rice and create an energizing meal. If making vegetarian casseroles, opt for brown or green lentils since these hold their shape more efficiently than their red or yellow counterparts.
Before using dried lentils, rinse them under cold water and pick out any non-lentils (pebbles, dirt or morning glory seeds may sneak in). Add them to a pot with enough cold water or broth to cover them by approximately three inches; season lightly with salt. Bring this pot to the boil then turn down heat until water reaches simmering stage – approximately 20-30 minutes for tender lentils before draining any excess liquid if necessary.
To create a vegan version of this dish, switch out chicken broth for vegetable broth and use other whole foods such as cooked sweet potato or combinations of broccoli florets and carrots as needed. This meal is an excellent source of protein, folate and choline which are crucial for pregnant women and babies during gestation and birth.
Ingredients in this dish may differ, but generally speaking you’ll need brown or green lentils and tomato sauce (either homemade or store-bought). To add additional nutrition and spice, mix diced bell peppers, diced carrots, cauliflower florets and frozen spinach or kale along with ground spices like coriander cumin curry powder garam masala Berbere as desired – add this mixture to a baking dish before baking until bubbly and heated through; top off your servings with drizzles of tahini/hummus on top!
4. In risotto
lentils make an excellent alternative to rice when used to create creamy risotto dishes. Combine 1 cup of dry lentils with 2 1/2 cups of water, and simmer over medium-low heat until tender – for optimal results add thyme sprigs and bay leaves along with your other ingredients!
Lentils come in various shapes and colors, allowing them to fit with almost any recipe. Brown lentils, which are the most frequently found in supermarkets, tend to be large flat and mild-flavored varieties. Their cooking time usually falls within 20 to 30 minutes compared to rice cooking methods.
Green lentils (Puy lentils) are smaller, rounder lentils with an al dente texture that are great for salad bases or mixing into other herbs, vegetables and proteins to form grain bowls. They hold their shape well while still offering plenty of crunch!
Red and yellow lentils have an earthy sweetness to them that complements other flavors well in dishes like soups and stews. Unfortunately, their shape doesn’t hold up as well as Puy lentils do, yet these versatile little legumes still make delicious dishes!
Black Beluga lentils, which bear an uncanny resemblance to caviar, offer an eye-catching addition to salads, grain bowls and soups alike. Quick to cook up and ready in just minutes! They make for an eye-catching twist in any dish you serve them up in!
When substituting lentils for rice in a recipe, make sure that the cooking time is accurate. One cup of dry lentils generally yields two cups of cooked lentils while one cup of cooked rice will typically finish cooking within 20 to 30 minutes – increase cooking times accordingly for any rice recipes when swapping out for lentils as this difference could hinder success.
5. In salads
An unfamiliar bag of lentils may seem daunting in your pantry, especially if you don’t know what to do with them. Your mind might go blank if it goes bad before you can cook them, leaving behind unusable heaps. However, dry lentils have long-term storage life when stored properly – even for months!
When purchasing lentils, make sure the bag is unbroken with no holes or cracks, and run your hand through it to check for rocks or any unwanted debris hiding within.
There are various kinds of lentils you can use, but certain kinds are better suited for certain recipes than others. Brown lentils are one of the most widely consumed varieties, boasting earthy tones with firm bite that remains when they’re cooked; making them a top pick for soups and stews due to their ability to thicken dishes. Other varieties like French green (also called Puy lentils) or beluga black lentils have smaller size but retain crisp textures, ideal for tossing into salads or using as bases for grain bowls.
To make a salad with lentils, combine 2 1/2 cups of water with one cup of dry lentils in a pot and bring to a boil before simmering uncovered until tender, roughly 20-30 minutes. Drain and serve warm as either main course or side dish – it makes an easy weekday lunch or dinner dish!