Lentils are packed full of fiber, protein, several B-vitamins and many different minerals. They're one of the best sources of protein for vegetarians, and as an added bonus, they are very low in calories. Lentils can be prepared in most of the same ways that beans are prepared; the difference is that dried lentils don't have to be soaked before they're cooked, so preparation time is much quicker. There are many ways to prepare this healthy, delicious protein source.
1. Lentil Dip
Everyone loves bean dip, and for a change of pace you can make lentil dip in much less time. Combine 2½ cups of water with one cup of lentils. Sprinkle in some chopped onion, cover and boil. Simmer for about half an hour, and check to see if the lentils are soft. If they are, blend them until they're smooth. Salt the lentil and onion mixture, and then add your choice of spices to give it a kick. Some popular choices include garlic powder, cayenne pepper and curry powder. Serve with chips, pita triangles or vegetables for a unique appetizer.
2. Lentil Soup
Lentil soup is mouthwatering and easy to make. In particular, tomato-based lentil soup is rich and filling. To start, saute one diced onion, two chopped carrots and one chopped stalk of celery in a large soup pot. Season the vegetables with garlic powder and oregano, and then stir in a large can of crushed tomatoes. Add eight cups of water and two cups of dry lentils. Bring the mixture to a boil, add a bay leaf and then simmer for at least one hour. Season as you wish and serve.
3. Rice and Lentils
When rice and lentils are cooked together, they have the necessary amino acids to make a complete protein. It's an inexpensive way to swap meat out of a meal and keep it filling. For a simple rice and lentils dish, saute one large chopped onion until it's browned. In another saucepan, cover 1â cup of lentils with water. Bring the water to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add ¾ cup of rice and enough water to cover the mixture. Simmer for 20 more minutes or until the rice and lentils are tender. Mix the rice, lentils and onions together. Add some salt and pepper, then eat up!
4. Lentil Quiche
Vegetarian lentil quiche is a very customizable dish. You just need to boil and simmer ½ cup of lentils until they're soft, and then mix them with a variety of cooked vegetables in a pie dish. Whisk four eggs with one cup of milk and season the egg mixture. Pour on top of the lentils and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Since you can use any vegetables you like, you can reuse this preparation often without getting tired of it.
Lentils are healthy, inexpensive and tasty. Try these and other preparation methods out and find your favorite way of eating lentils.