What are green lentils?
Lentils are a pulse, a cousin to the pea, that originated in Asia and North Africa. They have been enjoyed by humans since Neolithic times. Lentil in Latin is ‘lens’ and these are named after the lentil’s round shape.
They come in lots of different varieties including yellow, red, brown, black and green. Green lentils have an earthy, nutty flavour and firm, ‘meaty’ texture, which makes them an ideal substitute in meat-free cooking.
Of all nuts and legumes, only soy beans and hemp have higher levels of protein than lentils. They are iron-rich, high in fibre – with green lentils containing more fibre than red, and low in fat. They are a source of bone-strengthening calcium, folate for heart health and brain-boosting vitamin B.
Store lentils in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and in an airtight container.
How do I prepare green lentils?
While some lentils are used for their ability to break down during cooking, green lentils retain their shape well. This makes them ideal for using in hearty salads, stews, and in stuffed vegetables. They are a good addition to rice dishes, and tasty in meat-free lasagne or moussaka.
They can also be sprouted. In India, lentil sprouts are taken to temples as offerings. In this form, they contain all essential amino acids.
There is no need to soak green lentils, but doing so will reduce their cooking time. In either case, they should be rinsed, before boiling one part lentils to three parts water for 40 minutes or until tender.
Green Lentil Soup from Turkish cuisine
Here’s how to make it:
- Finely chop one onion and sweat it gently in a good glug of olive oil for a few minutes.
- Add one clove of crushed garlic, a sprinkling of paprika and cumin, salt and black pepper and saute for a few more minutes just to let the onion take on the flavours.
- Next, add one coffee mug of green lentils and stir for about 5 minutes.
- Saute your ingredients before adding water
- Now, add 4 mugs of hot water, stir, bring to the boil and then cover and simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes or until the lentils are soft. (You might need to add more water so just check occasionally. I think I ended up using around 6 mugs when I made it).
While your soup is simmering, you can make the garnish to serve it with. If you go to a lokanta in Fethiye, you sometimes get a separate dressing to add to your soup. (If you’re with Turkish friends, this usually appears automatically. If you’re not, you might have to ask for it as there is sometimes an assumption that foreigners don’t like or want the dressing.) We’d never even thought of adding dressings to soup before we came to Turkey but now, we don’t eat soup without at least adding lemon. The dressing you get in lokantas is genius – usually a mixture of vinegar, lemon and garlic. It adds a great twist to your soup and it goes perfectly with Green Lentil Soup from Turkish cuisine.