Everything you need to know about lentils

Everything you need to know about lentils

Everything you need to know about lentils

Lentils are one of the cheapest sources of protein you can buy at 30c per serving. They are fat free, sugar free and preservative free, and you can buy organically grown lentils. But what’s the difference between the different types of lentils, how do you cook with them and most importantly of all what recipes can you make that your family will love?


Types of lentils

There are two main types of lentils those that go mushy when cooked and those that retain their shape.

Green and brown lentils retain their shape when cooked so they are great for salads  and can be used to make burger patties or vegetarian meatloaf. They can also be used in soups or casseroles if you want a chunkier texture. Puy lentils come from France and are more expensive than brown or green lentils. They retain their shape the best so are perfect for salads where the lentils are the star.


Red and yellow lentils lose their shape and go mushy when cooked. So they are great for soups and curries. Split peas come in yellow and green varieties. While they aren’t lentils they behave the same as red lentils and turn mushy when cooked so are also great in curries and soups.

So if stocking up on lentils or split peas you don’t need to buy all four varieties just make sure you buy one variety to use in salad and one for soups.


How to cook lentils

If you are short on time you can buy cans of brown lentils at the supermarket, perfect for popping in a salad or stew but the cheapest way to buy lentils is dried. Buy them loose in the bulk bin section of the supermarket and then store in a jar if you prefer not to buy items in plastic packaging. Cooked lentils freeze well so why not batch cook your lentils and then freeze them, that way they are ready to go when you need a quick meal.

It’s important to thoroughly rinse your lentils before cooking to remove any pieces of grit.

To cook lentils combine 2 cups water with 1 cup lentils. Bring them to a rapid simmer, then reduce the heat to low for the rest of cooking. By cooking at a low heat this will stop them splitting their skins or becoming mushy. Don’t salt the water or lentils until they have finished cooking as otherwise they could stay crunchy even when fully cooked. For brown and green lentils drain off any remaining liquid by straining through a colander. Red and yellow lentils will absorb most of the liquid so any remaining liquid can go into the soup or curry you are making.


How to use lentils

  1. Use red and yellow lentils in curries or dahls.

2. Any kind of lentil works well in a soup. Use split peas to make a pea and ham soup, red lentils go well with carrots and brown lentils go well with cumin and silverbeet. 

Leek and lentil soupLeek and lentil soup

3. Brown lentils can be added to mince dishes to make the meat go further. Use them in burgers, meatballs and meatloaf. Your children will never know.

Mexican meatballs

Mexican Meatballs with brown lentils

4. Use lentils as a complete replacement for meat in vegetarian bolognese, meatloaf, and lentil burgers.

Vegetarian BologneseVegetarian Bolognese


5. Use green, brown or french lentils in salads

Autumn Lentil Salad