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Make Lentils Your Legume of Choice

All legumes are high in fiber, but some are faster cooking than others - especially lentils

Lentils are those little round "buttons" that are either whole or split. Many varieties exist and most are not only quick to cook, they require no pre-soaking. They're sold in supermarkets, generally as brown lentils.

In general, lentils are high in fiber and protein and low in fat. There are so many varieties that it is best to visit an ethnic or gourmet market to explore the tasty options.

Among them, you'll find:
-red lentils
-split yellow lentils
-French green lentils
-black lentils

In India, they're referred to as "dal," but the term also encompasses any bean or pea (including chickpeas/garbanzo beans) and additionally refers to a soup or "dry dal," which is thicker in consistency much like mashed potatoes.

Some lentils do require pre-soaking, but usually no more than an hour. It's also important to never overcook these little legumes as some of them will become mushy. Usually, if they're split, they're better for soups. Whole lentils are great for creating a side dish that can be eaten with a fork. Some varieties that are sold with the skin are much tastier and with higher fiber, but may also be less digestible.

If you're looking for a quick substitute, try canned green peas or black-eyed peas. These can be processed for either soups or sides and enhanced with spices and herbs.

Many on-line retailers will also have extensive selections of lentils. Just make sure you're clear on the instructions to create the perfect - and quick - lentil dish.


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