By Fredrica Syren:
I still remember the first time I ever tasted lentils. I hated everything about them – taste, texture . . . even the thought of them.
Who would want to eat lentils?? A funny thing happened, though: I fell in love with lentils and today they are one of my staple foods.
As a vegan family, we find lentils a very important part of our diet as a great source of protein. However, lentils are great food for anyone, meat eaters and vegans alike. Lentils are considered one of world’s healthy foods for a good reason. Not only are they a great source of protein and cholesterol-lowering fibers, but they also contain excellent amounts of seven important minerals, as well as folate, iron, potassium and B-vitamins. One of the great things about lentils is that they are virtually fat-free so they fill you up, but not out.
There are four kinds of lentils:
Green and brown: These need to be soaked for an hour before cooking and tend to keep their shape after being cooked. They are great in salads.
Puy lentils: A black, little, yummy lentil that is more rare and often more expensive.
Red split lentils: My favorite and most common of lentils. They are great to have on hand since they are cheap, don’t need to be soaked and cook fast. Red lentils are best in soups and sauces because they get mushy after being cooked.
Yellow lentils: Being quite similar to Red Split lentils, the yellow variety are used in a similar way.
Here are some of my favorite lentil recipes:
Moroccan Spiced Lentils-
- 1 cup green lentils
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup yellow onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- ½ Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
- ½ tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. coriander
- 2 cups kale, chopped
- ¼ cup dates, pits removed and chopped
- Salt to taste
Combine lentils, broth, carrot, garlic, onion, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and coriander in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium/low heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, until lentils are soft. Fold in the kale, dates and salt if needed. Cook for another minute,
Lentil Pasta Sauce-Forget the old heavy meat pasta sauce and say hello to a bright and flavorful sauce.
- 2/3 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed well
- 1 vegetarian bouillon cube
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped and diced
- 1 large garlic clove, grated
- 1 can crushed tomatoes with Italian herbs
- 1 Tbs. brown sugar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 Tbs. oregano
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- salt to taste
- Cheese to sprinkle over dish before serving
Place lentils, carrots, water, onion and garlic in a pot, and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until lentils are done (about 10 minutes). Add remaining ingredients except the cheese and blend well. Simmer for 5 minutes. Pour sauce over pasta of your choice. Sprinkle with grated cheese before serving.
Mushroom and Green Lentil Patties-
- 1½ cups of water
- ½ cup dried green lentils, rinsed and soaked 1 hour
- ½ tsp. dried parsley
- ¼ cup chopped onions
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 1¼ cups bread crumbs
- ¼ cup flax seeds
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 ½ cups mushrooms, finely chopped
- ¾ cup Swiss chard, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
In a saucepan, boil water. Add the dried (previously soaked) green lentils, dried parsley, garlic and onion. Let simmer for 35-40 minutes.
Mix the chopped walnuts, breadcrumbs and flax seeds in a bowl, and set aside.
Fry onion, garlic, finely chopped mushrooms and chopped Swiss chard in olive oil for 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Combine everything in a food processor and mix until it’s a sticky dough. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Shape the mixture into patties, and fry until lightly brown and crispy, about 3-5 minutes on each side.