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Load Up on Lentils: 10 Healthy Recipes

By , Bryn Mooth
Don’t love lentils? We’re here to convince you otherwise. People have been eating lentils for millennia; they’re common in Mediterranean, Asian and Indian cuisines.
That’s no surprise: These tiny legumes are packed with dietary fiber, protein and valuable nutrients including folate and magnesium, so they’re healthful additions to your plate. In fact, they are one of the best meatless protein sources.
 
Beyond those benefits, though, they’re just delicious: pleasantly earthy in flavor, with a hearty texture that’s really satisfying. (In fact, if you don’t love lentils, you may have found them mushy and overcooked.) Lentils are typically sold dried—you’ll find black (Beluga), red, green or French (du Puy) varieties—and they’re super easy to cook and incredibly versatile. Here are 10 great ways to make lentils a healthy part of your diet:
 
Lentils 1, 2, 3
Think 1, 2, 3: 1 cup of dried lentils plus 2 cups of water yields about 3 cups of cooked lentils. You can double or reduce the amounts to suit your recipe. Lentils freeze beautifully, so you’re smart to cook a double batch and freeze what you don’t use right away.
 

Cooking Lentils, Part 1

To cook black, green or French lentils: Place the dried lentils in a colander and rinse under cool water; pick out any debris or shriveled lentils. Bring lentils, water and a generous pinch of salt to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Begin tasting for doneness after 20 minutes; you want the lentils cooked al dente, like pasta—cooked through, but not at all mushy.
 

Cooking Lentils, Part 2

Red and orange (and some green) lentil varieties are commonly split, so they cook much faster than their darker cousins. Also, they get softer with cooking, almost disintegrating, so red and orange lentils are great for soups or for Indian dishes. Use the same proportions of water and lentils, and cook for about 10 minutes.
 
 

Lentil Soup with Spicy Italian Sausage

Bacon or sausage are flavorful partners to lentils, and this easy soup features big chunks of root vegetables and rounds of cooked Italian sausage; substitute chicken sausage if you’d like.


Lentil Vegetable Soup
Soup is what most people associate with lentils, and here’s a great vegetarian version, with garlic, onion and carrots. The recipe calls for soaking the lentils overnight, though that’s not necessary.
 
 
Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup
Another variation on lentil soup, this one is a real favorite. It’s super quick to make if you use already cooked lentils from your freezer. A topping of saffron-infused yogurt makes this lentil soup recipe really sing.
 

Herbed Bulgur and Lentil Salad
Lentils have tons of uses beyond the traditional soup. This hearty salad—perfect as a dinner side or as a take-to-work lunch—packs plenty of whole-grain fiber and protein, with a zingy dressing of garlic, lemon and olive oil.
 


Lentil Salad with Chard and Tomatoes

This salad was inspired by the Lively Up soup recipe above; it makes a great lunch option that can help you stay full and fueled all afternoon. Pack it along with some baked pita chips and hummus. Photo courtesy of writes4food.com
 
Lentil and Chickpea Burgers
Lentils form the basis of a great veggie burger. This SparkPeople member recipe blends cooked lentils and canned chickpeas, lots of spice and some bread crumbs to hold it all together. Cook these burgers in a skillet.
 


Salmon with Lentils

These little legumes make a lovely bed for a piece of grilled or oven-roasted salmon, in a super heart-healthy combination. Sauté diced onion, carrot and celery in olive oil; season well with salt and pepper and toss with cooked French lentils. Serve a generous spoonful of lentils and vegetables, with the fish on top.

What is your favorite way to eat lentils?



Bryn Mooth
is extending her 20-year career in publishing as an independent journalist and copywriter. She shares seasonal recipes, kitchen techniques, healthy eating tips and food wisdom on her blog writes4food.com.


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Comments

KHALIA2 9/23/2018
I simply love lentils because they are so good for you. Report
HARRIETT14 8/30/2018
I would have liked to try some of these recipes however, I have to watch my sodium intake and altho they do seem to look very good I cannot have them due to the large amount of sodium. Report
RYCGIRL 8/14/2018
love it! Report
PAULA3420 7/6/2018
I LOVE lentils and this article was WONDERFUL with so many new and creative recipes for using them in so many ways. THANKS SPARK PEOPLE!!! Report
AMBER461 3/29/2018
Thanks for the new ideas. Report
CHERIRIDDELL 3/21/2018
Thanks for the new ideas ! Report
SHELLEYMCELROY6 3/20/2018
I had never even heard of lentils until I came to spark people about a month ago. Trying to get more protein in my diet I thought I'd give them a try. Now they're probably my favorite food, definitely my favorite protein source! I cook mine up with a whole onion cut up and a can of French onion soup. Delicious! Report
SHELLEYMCELROY6 3/20/2018
I had never even heard of lentils until I came to spark people about a month ago. Trying to get more protein in my diet I thought I'd give them a try. Now they're probably my favorite food, definitely my favorite protein source! I cook mine up with a whole onion cut up and a can of French onion soup. Delicious! Report
MDCALIFORNIA 3/20/2018
Looks good Report
JSTETSER 3/1/2018
Lentil and veggie soup! Report
Just had them tonight In my vegetable soup; so delicious
and healthy! Report
NASFKAB
thanks for the ideas Report
I love lentils they are absolutely delicious! Report
Great are article and recipes on lentils! Report
good recipes if you like lentils Report
LINDA_PORTELL
The biggest surprise for me is that they do not require pre-soaking. I've enjoyed eating them out but never bothered to make at home because I thought they would take to long. Thanks for the info. Report
I love Lentils. Actually have a bowl of cooked red lentils in the fridge. I never run out, I have all types in my cupboard.My husband even likes them and he is a junk food junkie. Report
Never knew you could do so much with lentils Report
A friend introduced me to lentils in a curry sauce. Yummy!!!! Report
A friend introduced me to lentils in a curry sauce. Yummy!!!! Report
I love beans, but I have tried many lentil recipes and I just cannot swallow any of them. Report
I used to cook at an Indian restaurant so my favorite lentil dish is still dal. Report
Finely diced zucchini, eggplant and onion, sautéed with lentils, then cooked in a light stock. Yummy! Report
Always wanted to add lentils to my eating but not sure how and soups are the best way for me. Report
I make a brown rice and lentil casserole.

I also like to add lentils to a lot of soups because it ups the protein and fibre and lentils cook in 20 minutes ( compared to much longer cooking times for beans) Report
Lentils are great, but unfortunately the SparkPeople database only includes the information for COOKED lentils and not the raw, dried ones. The SparkRecipes listed here all have incorrect nutritional data since the recipes call for raw, dried lentils but they used the cooked listing as their ingredient.

Calories per serving for the Lentil Vegetable Soup should be 341 (not the 228 shown), for the Herbed Bulgur and Lentil Salad should be 215 (not the 159 shown), and for the Lentil and Chickpea Burger should be 235 (not the 190 shown). Obviously, all of the other nutritional information for these is also equally out of whack.

Folks need to enter the data themselves from either the USDA database or from nutritiondata.self.com for the raw, dried lentils to get correct nutritional information for their recipes. Alternatively, they could use an approximation of the cooked amount and use the existing "lentils" entry (so, would use 3 cups of the existing entry if they are using 1 cup raw, dried) to be more accurate.

Either way, it is something that people need to be aware of so that they can use the entry correctly and get the correct nutritional information. Report
I love green lentils cooked with garlic, onion, mushrooms and aubergine (eggplant), lentil soup, dhal, in a bolognaise... lots of ways really! Report
I love using lentils to cook, I often plain cook a huge bag and freeze in individual portions. Report
KAREN2LOSE55
I love the East Indian flavored lentils. Yum!! Report
Lentil chili and Lentil and Veggie Toastadas are my fave lentil dishes.
Report
SPARKINGRAMMY
I love Lentil Soup. I also enjoy sweet-sour lentils. Report
One of my all time favorite dishes has always been just lentils and brown rice, with caramelized onions and topped with some greek yogurt. So good and filling. In fact, I might make that for dinner tomorrow night now that I'm thinking about it. Report
I have grown up with lentils too. They were always added to homemade soup and they disappeared as soon as they were added. I have started to sprout lentils and beans and grains. The lentils only take 2 days to sprout and provide additional nutrition and taste delightful. Report
We love traditional lentil soup. Lentils, of course with finely diced carrots, celery and onions. Then when nearly done, add a small handful of spinach. We serve this with pitas we've split in two sprayed with spray butter and broiled. Quick and easy and yummmm!!! Report
Our favorite way to eat them--Thai curried lentils with onion and garlic! Great on their own, top of a salad in place of dressing (thanks Dr. Oz!), or a side dish. Report
Curried lentils with rice and onions - yum!!
Italian lentils, cooked with chopped onions, garlic and aubergine(eggplant) - simply divine! Report
i need to add them to my vegetarian chili Report
LIZKOLSTER
I cook brown rice and lentils together -- 1 cup rice, 1/3 cup lentils, and three cups water. Cook as usual on low heat for 35-40 minutes. This is a high-fiber key ingredient to salads and side dishes. Report
GMAGEE
Hate it when I click on links in a blog and it doesn't take me to a new, separate window.

Love lentils! Report
Great recipes, I too was raised with lentils as a staple mostly used with Lamb and mint sauce. Almost every soup had lentils and barley in it Thanks for such good looking recipes. Pat in Maine. Report
PAMEPIE
As far as I know I've never eaten lentils, so I guess now is as good a time as any to start. Thanks. Report
IAMTOLOSE
Lentils are wonderful in so many ways! In these rather lean economic times (at least in my neck of the woods times are lean) they provide so many economical options for a healthy meal. Report
I have curried lentils recipe that I just love. I serve them over brown rice. It's a yummy, filling, nutritious, and frugal meal. Report
I grew up eating lentils, red beans and white beans. They were a staple. I cook them with a little ham or salt pork and plenty of seasoning (onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic). Easy to fix and they are great in a crock pot. Report
Never liked them but you make it sound enticing so I will try one of the soups and and the veggie burger. Open-mindedness never killed anyone... Report
SUNSET09
I love lentil soup and with rice, even putting the soup over rice! These look so tasty! Whoo, hoo! Report
SUNSET09
I love lentil soup and with rice, even putting the soup over rice! These look so tasty! Whoo, hoo! Report
My favourite way to eat lentils is with virtually ANY soup, casserole, cooked into gravies, in meatballs and meatloaves, and even in pizza and pasta dishes. If they can go in, then I will put them in - LOL! Report
lentil soup with carrots, a little bacon Report
Love lentils, I'm having some lentil salad with my garden salad right now! Report