Top 5 Ways to Use Lentils

Lentils are one of my favorite superstar ingredients, found in everything from crackers to desserts these days. Indeed, this “poor man’s meat” is right on trend, though lentils have been a part of traditional diets dating back at least 8,500 years. Can you imagine Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine without the savory touch of the powerful lentil? Beyond good taste, lentils (legumes or pulses, along with beans and peas) are packed with protein and nutrients—one cup cooked lentils packs 63% DV fiber, 90% DV folate, and 36% DV of protein. No wonder eating legumes, such as lentils, can reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and obesity. Plus these little gems come in so many varieties, including red, orange, yellow, black, brown, and green. So, get cooking with lentils! Try my 5 Top Ways to Use Lentils today.

Try lentils in a variety of creative dishes, such as this Lentil Walnut Bolognese.
This recipe for Herbed Lentil Patties with Mushroom Sauce takes advantage of cooked lentils to create a wholesome, comfort meal for the ages. 

Top 5 Ways to Use Lentils

Use simmered lentils in this recipe for Nourish Lentil Bowl.

1. Simmer Them in Minutes. Did you now that, unlike other beans and peas, lentils require no soaking? Just toss them into a pot with water or broth (1 cup dried lentils + 3 cups liquid) and cook them up in 15-20 minutes. Add some garlic, onions, and your favorite spices to turn this humble meal into a fabulous main dish. In fact, you can cook up a pot of lentils at the beginning of the week to enjoy this ingredient in your favorite meals all week long. Try adding cooked lentils to lentil patties and loaves, bowl meals, salads, and tacos during the week.

Try these Desert Sage Lentils from my book California Vegan for breakfast—or any time!

2. Breakfast Like a King. When I was a kid, I used to enjoy a savory bowl of cooked lentils for breakfast as the ultimate satisfying meal.  Rich in protein and fiber, it lasted me all morning long! Just reheat a bowl of cooked lentils, top with a swirl of EVOO if desired, and garnish with a sprinkle of oregano. Sop it up with crispy whole grain toast. Yum!

Curried Yellow Lentil Stew 

3. Create a Better Soup. The next time you make a pot of soup, toss in a handful (or two) of dried lentils to add protein, texture, and pizzazz. Since lentils are quick-cooking, you can get a home-made veggie lentil soup done in 20 minutes. Check out one of my favorite recipes for Curried Yellow Lentil Stew here.

Spicy Lentil Tacos

4. Top it with Lentils. Cooked lentils are the perfect protein-packed topper for your next meal, including a power bowl, salad, tacos, nachos, and quesadillas. Just skip the meat, and pile on the lentils for an earthy, savory, nutritious plant-based alternative.

Try lentils in smoothies, such as this recipe for Lentilicious Mango Turmeric Smoothie from my new book California Vegan.

5. Get Creative! Why not try lentils in unexpected ways! You can stir them into granola recipes (check out my recipe in Plant-Powered for Life), and blend cooked lentils into bars, cookies, crackers, and smoothies. The mild, earthy flavor of lentils means they won’t fight the flavors of your recipe, and the nutrition profile makes your dishes soar.

For more of my favorite lentil recipes, check out the following:

Curried Lentil Quinoa Soup
Mini Curried Lentil Wellingtons
Sage Lentils with Squash and Mushrooms

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