and how to cook them
When it comes to tasty, nutritious, versatile, and budget-friendly food, it’s hard to beat lentils. These legumes have been around for thousands of years, providing sustenance to countless people around the globe. They’re rich in minerals, iron, zinc, and other essential nutrients, making them an ideal addition to a healthy diet. If you’ve never cooked with lentils before, or if you’re looking to explore different recipes, this guide to cooking with lentils will get you started on the right foot.
Let’s start by discussing the types of lentils and their nutritional information. The most common varieties of lentils are brown, green, red, yellow, and black. Brown lentils are the most versatile and work well in most any type of dish. They’re also the most nutritious of the bunch and are high in dietary fiber, protein, and iron. Green lentils are similar to brown lentils in texture, but have a stronger flavor. Red lentils are best for soups and Purees, as they tend to break down when cooked. Yellow and black lentils are great for salads and pasta dishes, adding a pop of color and flavor.
In addition to their versatility, lentils are also incredibly simple to prepare. The key is to soak them before cooking to help soften their outer shell and to reduce their cooking time. Fortunately, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to soaking lentils - anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours will do the job.
Once your lentils are soaked, it’s time to cook them. It’s best to start by rinsing them again before cooking to remove any dirt or debris. The cooking time for lentils can vary depending on the variety, so for best results, it’s important to follow the directions on the package. Generally, it’s best to simmer lentils on the stovetop in plenty of water. Or, you can use a pressure cooker, which cuts down on cooking time significantly.
So now that the lentils are cooked, what do you do with them? Well, the possibilities are practically endless. Lentils make an excellent base for a veggie burger, a hearty winter stew, or even a savory lasagna. You can also toss cooked lentils into a salad, puree them into a dip, or enjoy them as a side dish. Just make sure to add some salt, pepper, or other spices to really bring out the flavor.
Finally, lentils are incredibly easy to store, making them a great pantry staple. Cooked lentils will stay fresh in the fridge for up to five days, and dry lentils can last up to a year when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
So the next time you’re looking for a nutritious and delicious meal, consider cooking up some lentils. Not only are they nutritious and versatile, but they’re also one of the most budget-friendly foods out there. With a few simple ingredients, you can easily create a satisfying and delicious meal for the whole family – and all for a fraction of the cost of other proteins and grains.
Lentils – From Farm to Fork
Every time you sit down to enjoy a hot bowl of lentil soup, do you ever take a moment to appreciate how that small, edible seed got from the farm to your dinner plate?
This fascinating journey starts in the Middle East and is the result of centuries of work by farmers, scientists and traders. To explore what lies behind the creation and delivery of lentils to your plate, let’s start at the source - the farm.
How Are Lentils Grown?
Unlike many other crops, lentils do not need to be planted in furrows or a field. They are, as described by the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, “Small, bushy plants that produce edible seeds.” Growing lentils can vary dependent on the species, but they are all generally cold-hardy perennials that can resist the extreme winds, cold, and dry conditions associated with most lentil-producing areas.
The process of growing lentils begins with the selection of a cultivar for the local climate, soil type, and water availability. The selection of an appropriate cultivar is vital for the farmer, as it will determine the size, shape and colour of the final lentil crop. The chosen lentils are then planted—either manually or using a no-till seeder—and the farmer will water and nurture the plants throughout their growth cycle.
Once the plants are ready for harvest, a specialized lentil harvester is usually used to take the crop from the fields. The harvested lentils contain the pods and some of the plant’s stems and leaves; these loose impurities must be removed before the lentils can be considered market worth. In some cases, the farmer might employ a combine to separate the lentils from the pods, but in other cases, a simple threshing system is adequate.
Processing and Packaging
Once the lentils are threshed, the next step in their long journey is to the factory. Here the lentils must be processed, cleaned and sorted. The first step is to separate the lentils from any remaining plant material, stones and other non-edible matter. This is done through a number of sieving devices, often with each device being responsible for separating out different particles size.
The separated lentils then travel through a number of further processing stages, depending on the desired end product. For lentils destined for the market as a whole grain product, the next task is to eliminate any weeds, mud, immature lentils and damaged grain. This involves the use of air-sensing equipment and color sorters to separate the desirable from the undesirable.
The cleaned, processed and sorted lentils are then carefully weighed and packed. Smaller supermarkets and eco-friendly brands may choose to package the lentils by hand into dine bags tied with string. Alternatively, the lentils may be placed in larger bulk bags and cartons, ready to be delivered to ports and customers.
The Distribution Network
The bags of lentils are now ready to grow, and the distribution network of farmers, suppliers and traders sets off into motion. If the lentils are to be exported, they are typically loaded onto large cargo ships or even railways, bound for ports around the world. If they are to be sold domestically, they may be transported by truck or by train.
As the lentils continue on their way to their destination, they pass through a variety of different stages of the trading network. The lentils may be sold and bought many times over before arriving at the market, each time changing hands and incurring new costs. At each step of the way, the lentils may also be subjected to quality control requirements and regulations, depending on the country in which they are sold.
Finally, the distribution process culminates with the delivery of the lentils to the store or market of their desired destination. Here, the lentils will be identified with their country of origin and a price tag that reflects the full cost of their production and transportation.
Lentils are often considered a staple food across many cultures around the globe, but many are unaware of the complex journey they take before arriving on their plate. From the selection of a suitable cultivar, to the cleaning process and sorting, right through to their thousands of miles long journey, each of the steps taken results in you enjoying a delicious and nutritious meal.
Whether you’re enjoying a traditional Indian Dal, a succulent Spanish stew or simply indulging in a simple bowl of lentil soup, take a moment to recognise the hard-work, energy and passion that have gone into the production of this ancient crop.
|Vitamin E||0.11 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.0017 mg|
|Vitamin C||0.0015 grams|
|Vitamin B1||0.17 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.07 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.00106 grams|
|Vitamin B4||0.0327 grams|
|Vitamin B5||0.64 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.18 mg|
|Vitamin B9||0.181 mg|
Daily Value 1.3 g
Daily Value 0.018 g
Daily Value 0.4 g
Daily Value 1.25 g
Daily Value 4.7 g
Daily Value 2.3 g
Daily Value 0.011 g
Daily Value 0.9 mg
Daily Value 0.0023 g
Daily Value 0.055 mg
|Aspartic Acid||0.998 grams|
|Glutamic Acid||1.399 grams|
|Total Sugars||1.8 grams||
|Palmitic acid (16:0)||0.05 grams||
|Stearic acid (18:0)||0.01 grams||
|Total Saturated fatty acids:||0.06 g|
|Oleic acid (18:1)||0.06 grams||
|Total Monounsaturated fatty acids:||0.06 g|
|Linolenic acid (18:3)||0.04 grams||
|Linoleic acid (18:2)||0.14 grams||
|Total Polyunsaturated fatty acids:||0.18 g|