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Load Up on Lentils: 10 Healthy Recipes

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By: , – Bryn Mooth
3/5/2013 12:00 PM   :  23 comments   :  53,452 Views

Don’t love lentils? We’re here to convince you otherwise. People have been eating lentils for millennia; they’re common in Mediterranean, Asian and Indian cuisines.
That’s no surprise: These tiny legumes are packed with dietary fiber, protein and valuable nutrients including folate and magnesium, so they’re healthful additions to your plate. In fact, they are one of the best meatless protein sources.
 
Beyond those benefits, though, they’re just delicious: pleasantly earthy in flavor, with a hearty texture that’s really satisfying. (In fact, if you don’t love lentils, you may have found them mushy and overcooked.) Lentils are typically sold dried—you’ll find black (Beluga), red, green or French (du Puy) varieties—and they’re super easy to cook and incredibly versatile. Here are 10 great ways to make lentils a healthy part of your diet:
 
Lentils 1, 2, 3
Think 1, 2, 3: 1 cup of dried lentils plus 2 cups of water yields about 3 cups of cooked lentils. You can double or reduce the amounts to suit your recipe. Lentils freeze beautifully, so you’re smart to cook a double batch and freeze what you don’t use right away.
 

Cooking Lentils, Part 1

To cook black, green or French lentils: Place the dried lentils in a colander and rinse under cool water; pick out any debris or shriveled lentils. Bring lentils, water and a generous pinch of salt to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Begin tasting for doneness after 20 minutes; you want the lentils cooked al dente, like pasta—cooked through, but not at all mushy.
 

Cooking Lentils, Part 2

Red and orange (and some green) lentil varieties are commonly split, so they cook much faster than their darker cousins. Also, they get softer with cooking, almost disintegrating, so red and orange lentils are great for soups or for Indian dishes. Use the same proportions of water and lentils, and cook for about 10 minutes.
 
 

Lentil Soup with Spicy Italian Sausage

Bacon or sausage are flavorful partners to lentils, and this easy soup features big chunks of root vegetables and rounds of cooked Italian sausage; substitute chicken sausage if you’d like.


Lentil Vegetable Soup
Soup is what most people associate with lentils, and here’s a great vegetarian version, with garlic, onion and carrots. The recipe calls for soaking the lentils overnight, though that’s not necessary.
 
 
Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup
Another variation on lentil soup, this one is a real favorite. It’s super quick to make if you use already cooked lentils from your freezer. A topping of saffron-infused yogurt makes this lentil soup recipe really sing.
 

Herbed Bulgur and Lentil Salad
Lentils have tons of uses beyond the traditional soup. This hearty salad—perfect as a dinner side or as a take-to-work lunch—packs plenty of whole-grain fiber and protein, with a zingy dressing of garlic, lemon and olive oil.
 


Lentil Salad with Chard and Tomatoes

This salad was inspired by the Lively Up soup recipe above; it makes a great lunch option that can help you stay full and fueled all afternoon. Pack it along with some baked pita chips and hummus. Photo courtesy of writes4food.com
 
Lentil and Chickpea Burgers
Lentils form the basis of a great veggie burger. This SparkPeople member recipe blends cooked lentils and canned chickpeas, lots of spice and some bread crumbs to hold it all together. Cook these burgers in a skillet.
 


Salmon with Lentils

These little legumes make a lovely bed for a piece of grilled or oven-roasted salmon, in a super heart-healthy combination. Sauté diced onion, carrot and celery in olive oil; season well with salt and pepper and toss with cooked French lentils. Serve a generous spoonful of lentils and vegetables, with the fish on top.

What is your favorite way to eat lentils?



Bryn Mooth
is extending her 20-year career in publishing as an independent journalist and copywriter. She shares seasonal recipes, kitchen techniques, healthy eating tips and food wisdom on her blog writes4food.com.



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Comments

  • 23
    I have grown up with lentils too. They were always added to homemade soup and they disappeared as soon as they were added. I have started to sprout lentils and beans and grains. The lentils only take 2 days to sprout and provide additional nutrition and taste delightful. - 7/19/2014   7:24:31 AM
  • 22
    We love traditional lentil soup. Lentils, of course with finely diced carrots, celery and onions. Then when nearly done, add a small handful of spinach. We serve this with pitas we've split in two sprayed with spray butter and broiled. Quick and easy and yummmm!!! - 5/20/2014   1:44:06 PM
  • RUNRUN131
    21
    Our favorite way to eat them--Thai curried lentils with onion and garlic! Great on their own, top of a salad in place of dressing (thanks Dr. Oz!), or a side dish. - 4/4/2014   4:40:46 PM
  • 20
    Curried lentils with rice and onions - yum!!
    Italian lentils, cooked with chopped onions, garlic and aubergine(eggplant) - simply divine! - 3/29/2014   12:33:22 PM
  • 19
    i need to add them to my vegetarian chili - 4/14/2013   3:06:04 PM
  • LIZKOLSTER
    18
    I cook brown rice and lentils together -- 1 cup rice, 1/3 cup lentils, and three cups water. Cook as usual on low heat for 35-40 minutes. This is a high-fiber key ingredient to salads and side dishes. - 3/7/2013   3:05:01 PM
  • GMAGEE
    17
    Hate it when I click on links in a blog and it doesn't take me to a new, separate window.

    Love lentils! - 3/7/2013   9:39:25 AM
  • 16
    Great recipes, I too was raised with lentils as a staple mostly used with Lamb and mint sauce. Almost every soup had lentils and barley in it Thanks for such good looking recipes. Pat in Maine. - 3/6/2013   4:06:27 PM
  • PAMEPIE
    15
    As far as I know I've never eaten lentils, so I guess now is as good a time as any to start. Thanks. - 3/6/2013   3:44:32 PM
  • IAMTOLOSE
    14
    Lentils are wonderful in so many ways! In these rather lean economic times (at least in my neck of the woods times are lean) they provide so many economical options for a healthy meal. - 3/6/2013   3:14:07 PM
  • 13
    I have curried lentils recipe that I just love. I serve them over brown rice. It's a yummy, filling, nutritious, and frugal meal. - 3/6/2013   1:36:46 PM
  • 12
    I grew up eating lentils, red beans and white beans. They were a staple. I cook them with a little ham or salt pork and plenty of seasoning (onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic). Easy to fix and they are great in a crock pot. - 3/6/2013   10:30:43 AM
  • 11
    Never liked them but you make it sound enticing so I will try one of the soups and and the veggie burger. Open-mindedness never killed anyone... - 3/6/2013   7:26:31 AM
  • SUNSET09
    10
    I love lentil soup and with rice, even putting the soup over rice! These look so tasty! Whoo, hoo! - 3/6/2013   4:03:23 AM
  • SUNSET09
    9
    I love lentil soup and with rice, even putting the soup over rice! These look so tasty! Whoo, hoo! - 3/6/2013   4:03:14 AM
  • 8
    My favourite way to eat lentils is with virtually ANY soup, casserole, cooked into gravies, in meatballs and meatloaves, and even in pizza and pasta dishes. If they can go in, then I will put them in - LOL! - 3/5/2013   11:56:05 PM
  • 7
    lentil soup with carrots, a little bacon - 3/5/2013   7:44:00 PM
  • 6
    Love lentils, I'm having some lentil salad with my garden salad right now! - 3/5/2013   7:28:15 PM
  • 5
    Thanks a million. You reminded me of my childhood with lentil burgers. I forgot how much I loved lentils. Will try to use more. For persons making the burgers, they taste great as "meat loaf' as well as between whole wheat buns with tomato, fried plantains, lettuce and tahini sauce. I can't wait to make some. - 3/5/2013   5:18:30 PM
  • RACEWELLWON
    4
    Question - Why the pinch of salt to boil black beans - does that help the beans boil down or soften ? - 3/5/2013   4:49:46 PM
  • 3
    I created a vegan lentil chili, perfect for winter weather. It's high in protein, low in fat, loaded with veggies. It's a shared recipe on SparkRecipes, since I'm not allowed to post the link to it. Or you can go find it on my other blog at potatoestopeaches dot com. - 3/5/2013   4:15:55 PM
  • 2
    I enjoy cooking as directed and eating them with my meal. I haven't had any in a while and now I think it's time to pull them out again. I also enjoy adding other vegetables to them. I always recommend lentils because they are packed with fiber and protein which fills you up fast. Thanks for the recipes! :))) - 3/5/2013   4:01:41 PM
  • 1
    greatly appreciate this article - lentils are a super food and I need to incorporate more beans into my diet - 3/5/2013   1:16:45 PM

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