I am curious about how one gets to be an adult without ever having had lentils. Hmmm. Maybe this is a cultural thing? Just taste them! They are fairly bland and should be fine for picky eaters. They have a little bit of a meaty flavor, even if you prepare them without any animal ingredients.
Lentils do have lots of protein, but like other legumes, they also have carbs, so you have to be careful about serving size.
Rinse them off and simmer them in water. Add some onion and garlic sauted in a bit of olive oil, along with a dry bay leaf. They will also need some salt or maybe a bit of dried chicken stock--the kind that you can get in the Latin American foods section of the grocery store. Cook them until they are tender. That's all you have to do--no soaking or anything special required.
If you want to make a soup, lentils are good with both chicken and beef stocks. Carrots and celery both go well with lentils, as does parsley. For more complex recipes, look to Spanish cuisine and cuisines of the Middle East for ideas.
I love lentils and would go nuts for a big bowl of moros y cristinos...basically white rice and lentils, Spanish style, garnished with a hard-boiled egg. However, that is just way too many carbs for me, so it's a meal that I don't have very often.
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