Pantry Staple: Canned (and Dried) Lentils

Hey folks! I’m Sarah, a new addition to Food Lush, and I’m pretty excited to be able to talk to yet MORE people about food. Consider yourself warned!

Lentils-canned

As someone really keyed into not only the enjoyment of food, but also true nourishment, I tend to be a bit obsessive about making sure that we eat a well-rounded diet with plenty of fiber, protein, and other nutrients. It helps that I am constantly looking up nutritional stats of most foods, but it also helps that I keep my pantry and freezer well-stocked. Out of the many foods I keep on hand, which hopefully I’ll go through in time, one of my most favourite pantry staples is a can or bag of lentils.

They are a great source of cholesterol-reducing fiber, vegetarian protein along with a couple B vitamins, folate, iron, manganese and a host of other vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, lentils are low calorie and nearly free of fat. As a vegetarian, I’d say they’re a pretty good staple to have on hand, and we eat them a few times a week.

There are several different types of lentils – brown/green, french or puy lentils, split red lentils, each of which has their use; I use brown or green lentils most often, with split red lentils coming a close second in the wintertime.

Canned lentils can be a great quick fix, and are wonderful in the summertime when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen, as I rarely do in my 500sq ft apartment. Toss the rinsed lentils with chopped veggies and prepared vinaigrette for a nutritious and filling salad. Add a whole grain for even more oomph. Do the same in the fall or winter, but saute the vegetables and add the rinsed lentils toward the end, toss with dressing or sauce and you have a hearty, belly-warming meal. Our favourite this past summer was to add quinoa and canned lentils to Greek salad for a complete and super easy meal.

A bag of dried lentils can be just as useful, and even less expensive, but requires a bit more planning and prep time just to rinse and cook. It’s still worth the effort to me! Here are a few of my recent favourites that used dried lentils. I’ve made each of these and have LOVED them. As an aside – so has my husband who is usually the test of a good, people-pleasing recipe.

Lentils are such a versatile ingredient and a great option for meat eaters and vegetarians alike and are cheap to boot! From lentil loaves to indian style curries, everyone can get on board with something about lentils. Do you cook with lentils often? What kind? Do you have a favourite recipe that uses them? I’d love to find some new ones!

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