Lentils: Budget superfood

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LENTILS ARE THE UNSUNG HEROES of the bulk bin: The delicious legumes cost only $2 per pound, cook in less than 30 minutes, and half a cup has eight grams of fiber and nine of protein, plus iron, folate, and potassium. Here are four varieties and how to cook with them:
• RED Pinkish-orange in color; nutty and slightly sweet; ideal with Indian spices like cumin and cardamom

RECIPE: LENTIL DAL Bring 1 cup lentils, 2 cups water, a 2-inch piece of smashed ginger, ½ teaspoon of turmeric, and 1 tablespoon olive oil to a boil in a small saucepan; simmer 15 minutes. In a skillet, sauté 2 teaspoons garam masala (an Indian spice blend) in 1 tablespoon olive oil until fragrant; swirl into lentils. Ladle over rice; garnish with chopped cilantro and plain yogurt. Serves 4.
• BROWN Khaki-colored; mild, meaty flavor; perfect in soups

RECIPE: LENTIL SOUP Cook ½ cup chopped onion, 1 diced carrot, and 1 diced celery stalk in 2 tablespoons olive oil until golden. Add 1 cup lentils and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and simmer until lentils are tender. Puree in a blender in batches. Return to pot, stir in 2 tablespoons of cream or whole milk and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 4.
• FRENCH GREEN Also called lentilles de Puy; fresh, peppery flavor; great for salads

RECIPE: LENTIL SALAD Simmer 1 cup lentils in 2 cups water until tender; drain. Whisk together 4 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons red wine or sherry vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and salt and black pepper to taste. Toss with lentils and fresh tarragon or dill. Crumble goat cheese on top. Serves 4.
• BLACK BELUGA Earthy flavor; ideal with roasted vegetables

RECIPE: LENTILS AND CABBAGE Simmer ½ cup lentils in 1 cup water until tender; drain. Sauté one sliced red onion, 2 cups shredded cabbage, one clove minced garlic and 1 teaspoon minced ginger in 2 tablespoons olive oil until cabbage wilts. Add 1 cup diced tomatoes, 1½ teaspoons mustard seeds, ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, and ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom; simmer for 20 minutes. Add lentils; season to taste. Serves 4.

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By Emily Horton

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