Lentils: The Overlooked Treasure

Lentils: The Overlooked Treasure

Lentils are often overlooked as a nutritious household staple.  A part of the beans and legumes family, lentils are low in fat, high in protein and high in fiber.  Unlike their bean counterparts, they do not require soaking to be ready to cook, so they make a great last minute meal idea too.

Lentils require no special preparation to cook, but you do need to rinse them to rid them of dust and debris.  Once they are rinsed, they can be simmered for 15 to 30 minutes and eaten in hearty soups, as a protein ingredient in salad meals, or combined with rice for a complete protein.

One of my favorite meals with lentils is a soup packed with vegetables, a little meat, and a lot of spices.  Rinse the lentils clean and combine them with your choice of vegetables.  Cook your meat before adding it to the pot and simmer the whole thing for up to 30 minutes.  While it is cooking, throw some biscuits in the oven to bake and you will have a delicious, nutritious meal that works well on busy nights and is a perfect cold weather comfort food.

Almost any vegetable will go well in lentil soup.  Try combining carrots, parsnips, onions, broccoli stems and corn with spicy hamburger and lentils.  Add a generous sprinkling of garlic salt, pepper and maybe some Italian seasoning and your whole family will gobble it up.

If you plan ahead, lentils cook very well in a slow cooker too.  Combine all of the same ingredients, but add them to the slow cooker for 4-6 hours on low.

Lentils are versatile, delicious and nutritious and deserve to be a part of every pantry.