Wondering what to do with that packet of lentils hiding in the corner of your pantry? Food stylist and author Dianne Bibby’s wonderfully fragrant Moroccan harira soup is full of zest and packed with lentils.
Like many legumes, lentils are often overlooked as a source of protein and considered to be “poor man’s food”, says dietitian and nutritionist, Lynne MacCallum.
“Traditionally and culturally, meat has always been associated with being a good protein source,” she says. “In recent years, the production costs have risen and with mass farming practices, there is a move towards more sustainable and health-conscious (protein) options. This is where plant-based proteins such as legumes can now shine.”
Know your lentils
According to celebrity dietitian, Andrea du Plessis, these legumes are classified as a low GI food, which means that it is digested and absorbed into the body gradually.
What types are available?
There are four types you can find on your grocery store shelves, these include:
- Red split: Red split lentils are the fastest to cook within the lentil family as all the hulls have been removed.
- Brown: These are considered the most “standard” type, have a mild earthy taste, hold their shape well enough but become mushy when you cook them too long.
- Black: Black lentils have thicker skins than their cousins, a slightly more pronounced earthy taste and they hold their shape the best when cooked.
- Green: Green lentils have a peppery taste and hold their shape well but also take the longest to cook.
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
- 1 large brown onion, diced
- 2 stems celery, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1cm dice
- 1 fat clove garlic, minced
- 3cm piece of ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 300ml tomato passata (Tomato purée)
- ⅔ cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup barley, rinsed and drained
- 6½ cups vegetable stock
- ¼ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 400g tin chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 handful flat leaf parsley and mint, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped