Lentils have slowly crept into my heart as one of my favorite pantry items to have on hand and one of my favorite plant based sources of protein. It’s easy to put in place of something you would use ground meat for. So if you are trying to go more plant based, trying to find a meatless recipe to make here and there, or you just don’t have the ground meat to use for a dish, try it with lentils.
What Are Lentils?
Lentils are small legumes and are used in Asian, Indian, and Mediterranean dishes. It’s inexpensive and something you can easily store in your pantry next to your rice and pasta. They are high in protein which is why it makes a good plant based protein substitute, and since they are small, that’s why I like using it as a substitute for ground meats.
1 cup lentils = 17.9 g protein
That’s right. So let’s look at the different kinds you’d see at the store.
Types of Lentils
- GREEN LENTILS: These are my favorite and the ones I always keep on hand, as you can see from the pictures. They have a mild flavor and keep a firmer texture. Great to add to salads!
- BROWN LENTILS: They have more of a earthy flavor and hold their shape like green lentils. These are the most common type of lentil that is the easiest to find.
- BLACK LENTILS (Beluga Lentils): They are more round and more ball looking than the smashed oval look that green and brown lentils have and have a richer earthy flavor.
- RED or YELLOW LENTILS: They are often sold split, so they are smaller and cook really quickly. Because they are split they are softer, but also can be mushy. It’s great for pureeing in soups if you want a protein rich creamy soup.
How to Cook Dry Lentils
Lentils do not take long to cook at all. You can buy canned lentils, but cooking them takes as long as what white rice would to cook. You’ll save money, plus you’re able to season it and control the amount of sodium.
- RINSE YOUR LENTILS with fresh water before boiling and remove any dust, debris, and small stones that sometimes find their way in the bag or in the bulk container.
- Lentils do NOT require soaking. No need to think ahead and this being a longer process like dried beans can be.
- COOK ON STOVE using the ratio of 3 to 1, or 3 cups liquid (water, broth, etc.) to 1 cup dry lentils. The lentils will double and can even triple in size. Use a big enough pan.
- BRING TO A BOIL and cover tightly. Reduce heat to a simmer until they are tender.
- RED or YELLOW since they are split, it should only take 5-7 minutes.
- GREEN and BROWN takes about 15-20 minutes
- BLACK lentils take a little bit longer, about 20-25 minutes
- You might need to add a small amount of water depending on the type of lentil and how fresh or old they are.
- SEASON WITH SALT AFTER cooking. The lentils will become tough if salt is added before it’s cooked.
My Favorite Meatless Monday Recipe with Lentils
I always liked lentils but it wasn’t until this recipe for Vegan Sloppy Joes from Minimalist Baker that I really understood how awesome they can be! Check it out!
I will be posting a new recipe soon that uses lentils as one of my favorite lunch meal preps.
Quinoa Tabbouleh with Feta & Lentils
Finishing up the post now so stay tuned and the recipe will be coming your way soon!