Bindu Grandhi, guest blogger and flexitarian cookbook author, is back this month to tell us about a legume she’s absolutely crazy about! She tells us how to prepare them and shares a recipe and demonstration video for her Red Lentils and Tofu dish.
The wider you cast your food net, the easier it is to eat a delicious flexitarian diet, which is good for your health and the planet. So here’s one idea to add to your shopping list – lentils.
I’m absolutely mental over lentils – they’re hearty, convenient, cheap and quick cooking. Just like beans, lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, on average 230 calories for every cooked cup with a hefty 16 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. They’ve got plenty of potassium, iron, and vitamin B-1, too.
They’ll fill you up without filling you out! They have a mild, earthy flavor and are extremely versatile and marry well with fresh vegetables and spices. That makes them the perfect ingredient for soups, casseroles, salads and curried dishes to name a few. And they have the added advantage of cooking quickly without the need for presoaking.
One of my favorite lentils is Red Lentil. With colors ranging from salmon pink to actual red in its dried form, these are the sweetest and nuttiest of the lentils in my opinion. They turn golden when cooked and take about 20-25 minutes to cook.
They can be found in grocery stores, Whole Foods and Middle Eastern or Indian specialty markets. But I think you’ll get the best price at the Middle Eastern/Indian markets. For a 4lb. bag of red lentils, I paid $5.99 at our local Indian grocery store. What a bargain!
Here are a few tips when you’re preparing and cooking lentils:
- Sort lentils by spreading them out on a clean kitchen towel. Pick out and discard any shriveled and broken ones, stones and debris.
- Rinse under cold water.
- Bring about 1 ½ cups of water or broth to a boil for every cup of lentils in a medium saucepan. Add the lentils, allow water to return to boiling, reduce heat, partially cover pan, and simmer for 25-45 minutes depending on the variety. Don’t overcook them or they’ll get mushy.
Below are other satisfying lentils in my kitchen pantry along with approximate stove top cooking times:
- Chana Dal: 30 minutes. Dull yellow, mild, sweet flavor and a firm texture, goes well in soups, casseroles and Indian dishes.
- Toor Dal: 35-40 minutes. Yellow, mild and nutty; good for sambar, soup, curried dishes.
- Green or Yellow Split Peas. 45 minutes. Peas have a soft texture and mild flavor; good for soups and curried dishes.
- French Lentils. 35-45 minutes. Small, dark and stronger flavor, hold their shape better; good for salads.
Note: If you plan on cooking lentils often, I recommend getting a pressure cooker which cuts down nearly half the cooking time.
So walk down the grocery aisle and pick up a bag(s) of lentils. Try my easy and super tasty Red Lentils with Tofu, click on the link below for the recipe and demonstration video:
About the Author
Author of Spice Up Your Life, Bindu Grandhi is passionate about healthy and flavourful cooking, especially when it’s flexitarian. She shares her health knowledge with the world by providing practical, healthy and tasty recipes as The Flex Cook.
How do you like your lentils?