Everything You Need to Know About: Lentils
Made famous for all the wrong reasons by the BBC’s The Young Ones in the 1980’s, lentils haven’t exactly got the best reputation. A lot of people dismiss them as a boring, tasteless health food that only long haired students called Neil would ever consider worthy of dinner.
Lentils may not be enough to make a meal on their own, but we don’t know any legumes that can! Peas, peanuts and tamarind all belong to the legume family and while all of them are delicious essentials for many recipes, a bowl of tamarind plus a spoon does not equal a tasty dinner!
Lentils are still a worthy ingredient, capable of single handedly adding heart to any warming stew or spicy curry. They also come in twelve colourful varieties, including the famous Puy, Red Chief, Eston Green and Petite Golden.
If that wasn’t enough to make you reconsider your liking for lentils, consider this: archaeological evidence suggests that people have been eating lentils since Neolithic times, nearly 13,000 years ago making them one of the very first domesticated plants. That’s a pretty serious shelf life!
If you still haven’t reclassified yourself as a lentil lover, allow us to make one more ploy for your affection on their behalf: lentils are SO good for you! They have excellent properties for improving your heart health, cholesterol levels and digestion as well as providing a serious boost of vegetarian protein to increase your energy levels.
So, before you bounce off to buy yourself a bag of beluga, black, brown or any of the other kind of lentil, please heed one more thing: you should always remember to soak your lentils before cooking.
Soaking lentils overnight removes anti-nutrients like indigestible phytates and trypsin inhibitors. When you soak lentils, a thick residue will appear on top of the water which is a sign of the anti-nutrients washing away, leaving you with the good stuff.