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The Pod Squad – LENTILS!

Rich in protein, fiber, and iron, lentils are a dynamite addition to a plant-friendly diet – and their earthy flavor and satisfying textures (some have a firm bite, others cook up to doft and creamy) make them a trusty test-kitchen staple in soups, salads, and more. Learn their different personalities, and put them to delicious use.

1.) Yellow and Red Lentils

Often sold split (or halved, with the outer seed removed), these are easy to smash. We love them for thickening dips like hummus, and stews such as kitchari, an Indian dish made of vegetables, rice, and spices.

2.) French Green Lentils

This kin, also known as lentils du Puy, takes time to cook (start checking at 25 minutes), but its tenderness gives substance to salads and roasted veggies. It’s great tossed with sauteed mushrooms.

3.) Brown Lentils

These shape-shifters – they hold their structure but are mashable, too – are the most common and versatile variety (if you prefer more bite, watch them when simmering so they won’t get too soft). Add a cup to soup for heartiness, stir them into a pilaf, or mix them into veggie burgers.

4.) Black Lentils

Toss this small variety into any recipe that calls for green ones if you prefer a firmer, more al dente texture. Thy’re ready to go in about 25 minutes.

How to Cook Them

Bring 2 cups picked (to remove tiny pebbles) and rinsed lentils, 3 cups water, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until tender (start checking at 20 minutes, as cooking times vary). Drain if necessary; let cool. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 5 days, or freeze up to 3 months.

I’m trying to stock my fridge with some healthy options for the week ahead because I didn’t do so well last week. So, this morning I threw together some of my favorite flavors (garlic, lemon, feta) into an easy Marinated Lentil Salad. This salad makes a great side dish on its own, or you can bulk it up a number of ways to turn it into its own meal.

If you want to bulk this up, you could add any of the following:

chopped rotisserie chicken
chopped cucumber
chopped bell pepper
or even cooked and cooled rice

Serve as a salad or stuff it into a pita! I especially like to mix a dollop of hummus with the Marinated lentil salad, which gives even more garlicky flavor and a wonderful texture contrast to the lentils.

“Lentils are friendly – the Miss Congeniality of the bean world.”
~ Laurie Colwin

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