Cooking with lentils is an ancient practice that dates back thousands of years. In recent years, the popularity of lentils has skyrocketed, with more people than ever looking to add these tiny legumes to their diets. But how do you go about cooking them?
Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to talk you through everything you need to know about cooking with lentils in 2023. From the different types of lentils to the best cooking techniques, this guide will have you whipping up lentil-based dishes in no time.
Types of Lentils
The first step in cooking with lentils is understanding the different types. There are four main types of lentils, each with its own unique flavor and texture. Here’s a quick breakdown of the four types:
- Brown lentils: These are the most common type of lentils and are typically used in soups and stews. They’re also the quickest cooking of the four types, taking only about 20 minutes to cook.
- Green lentils: These are larger than brown lentils and have a nuttier flavor. They’re best used in dishes that require long cooking times, such as casseroles and curries.
- Yellow lentils: These are smaller than the other types and are often ground into a powder and used in Indian cuisine. They’re often used in dishes such as dal and dhokla.
- Red lentils: These are the sweetest and mildest of the four types, and are often used in salads and side dishes. They can also be used in soups and stews.
The Best Cooking Techniques
Once you’ve chosen the type of lentils you want to cook with, it’s time to learn the best cooking techniques. Here’s a quick overview of the best techniques for cooking lentils:
Boiling is the most common and easiest way to cook lentils. To begin, simply place the lentils in a pot of boiling water. Add a pinch of salt and any other seasonings you’d like. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Once the lentils are tender, drain the water and serve.
Steaming is another easy way to cook lentils. Simply place the lentils in a steamer basket set over a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and steam for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. You can also add seasonings to the water for added flavor.
Sautéing is a great way to add flavor to cooked lentils. To begin, heat a pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil or butter and let it melt. Add the lentils and any seasonings you’d like. Sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the lentils are tender.
Baking is a great way to add texture and flavor to cooked lentils. To begin, preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the lentils in a baking dish and add a tablespoon of oil or butter. Add any seasonings you’d like and mix to combine. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
Now that you know the best cooking techniques, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your lentil dishes:
- Soak your lentils for at least an hour before cooking. This will help to soften them and reduce the cooking time.
- Add spices and herbs to your lentils for flavor. Garlic, cumin, and coriander are all great additions.
- Add a few tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to your lentils while cooking. This will help to add flavor and brighten the dish.
- Mix lentils with rice or other grains for a filling meal. Lentils and rice make a great combination.
- Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste when cooking lentils. This will add flavor and richness.
Not only are lentils delicious, but they’re also incredibly good for you. Lentils are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. They’re also low in calories and fat, making them a great choice for those looking to lose weight.
Table 1: Nutritional Benefits of Lentils
|Nutrient||Amount per 1 cup cooked|
Creative Cooking Ideas
Now that you know how to cook with lentils, it’s time to get creative. Here are a few delicious recipes you can try:
- Lentil Soup: This hearty and flavorful soup is a great way to get your lentils in. Simply sauté onions, carrots, and celery in a pot with oil or butter. Add some garlic and spices, then add the lentils and broth. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese for an extra touch of flavor.
- Lentil Bolognese: This vegan-friendly dish is a great way to get your Italian fix. Sauté onions, carrots, and celery in a pan with oil or butter. Add garlic and spices, then add the lentils and crushed tomatoes. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Serve over your favorite pasta and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
- Lentil Curry: This spicy and flavorful dish is sure to please. Heat some oil or butter in a pot and add some diced onions, garlic, and ginger. Add your favorite curry spices and let them cook for a few minutes. Add the lentils and broth and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Serve with your favorite rice or naan bread.
Cooking with lentils is a great way to add flavor and nutrition to your meals. With the tips and recipes in this guide, you’ll be whipping up delicious lentil dishes in no time. So what are you waiting for? Grab some lentils and get cooking!
And as the wise philosopher, Drake once said, “If you’re cooking with lentils, you know you’re winning.”