The lentil: green, brown, coral

The lentil has been part of human food since prehistoric times. One of the smallest legumes, the lentil has the advantage of requiring a shorter cooking time than most legumes. The green or brown lentil that is sometimes used in soups is better known, but the coral lentil (sometimes called red lentil), which is a little smaller, is also found on the tablets.

Lentil characteristics :

  • Source of antioxidants;
  • Limits the appearance of cardiovascular diseases;
  • Rich in fibre;
  • Rich in iron;
  • Source of zinc.

What is the lentil? What is it?

Lentil ID card

  • Family: Fabaceous;
  • Origin: Europe and Asia;
  • Season: All year round;
  • Color: Green, brown, coral;

Lentil characteristics

What makes up the food (at harvest): its skin, flesh, nucleus

A word from the nutritionist

Lentils allow you to fill up on fibre, which is often consumed in too small quantities. Feel free to consume it regularly. Count 180 to 200g of cooked lentils for one serving. If your main target is to loose weight, fiber can help you. We have an article about this topic.

Nutritional values

For 100g of cooked lentils:

Proteins8.2 g
Lipids0.5 g
Carbohydrates12.6 g
Water70 g
Fibres9.1 g
Vitamin B10.13 mg
Vitamin B20.07 mg
Vitamin B935 µg
Iron3.3 mg
Phosphorus100 mg
Magnesium32 mg

Benefits of contact Lentils: Why eat them?

  1. Lentils contain antioxidants, which are compounds that protect the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals. The latter are highly reactive molecules that are believed to be involved in the development of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other age-related diseases.
  2. Lentils contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that reduce the growth of human cancer cells
  3. Rich in fibre, Lentils stimulate intestinal transit, reduce the risk of colon cancer and play on satiety.
  4. The presence of soluble fibre also contributes to the prevention of cardiovascular disease by reducing the absorption of bile acids, which helps to normalize blood cholesterol levels. They can also help control type 2 diabetes by, among other things, slowing down the digestion of glucose from food.
  5. Lentils contain phosphorus, which plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
  6. The lentil is an excellent source of iron for men and a good source for women, their needs being different. Every cell in the body contains iron. This mineral is essential for oxygen transport and the formation of red blood cells.
  7. The lentil is an excellent source of vitamin B9, which is involved in the production of all cells in the body, including red blood cells. This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material (DNA, RNA), in the functioning of the nervous and immune systems, and in the healing of wounds and sores.
  8. The lentil is a source of magnesium that contributes to bone development, protein building, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and immune system function.
  9. The lentil is a source of potassium that is used to balance the pH of the blood and stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid by the stomach, thus promoting digestion.
  10. The lentil is a source of selenium. This mineral works with one of the main antioxidant enzymes, preventing the formation of free radicals in the body. It also helps to convert thyroid hormones into their active form.
  11. The lentil is a source of vitamin B2. This vitamin is also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and red blood cell formation.
  12. The lentil is a source of vitamin B3. Also known as niacin, vitamin B3 is involved in many metabolic reactions and particularly contributes to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, fats, proteins and alcohol we ingest. It also collaborates in the DNA formation process, allowing normal growth and development.

Choosing the right Lentils

The lentil must be smooth, whole, with a shiny skin and a clear color. It must not have started to germinate.

The different varieties

There are different varieties of Lentils that are listed according to their color:

  • Green lentil: the most widely grown in both Europe and North America, according to three categories: large, medium, small; its skin is thin, but does not burst when cooked.
  • Blonde lentil: the most common and one of the largest, it is grown in Argentina, Canada, Chile, Chile, Turkey and the United States, but not in France.
  • Brown lentil: it is mainly used in cans.
  • Coral or pink lentil: grown in India, the Middle East and North Africa, it has a slightly peppery flavour.
  • Red lentil: this is a rather rare variety. In France, it is grown only in Champagne and is called “lentillon”, Canada is also a producer.
  • Beluga black lentil: smooth, round and black (hence its name), it is native to Canada.

Store well

In the long run, legumes become harder and less digestible. It would seem that this is less the case for Lentils, but it is still preferable not to store them for more than one year. They are kept in an airtight container, cool and dry.

Lentil preparation

How to cook it? How to match it?

Preparation :
Before cooking the lentils, rinse them with plenty of water, removing floating lentils and stones if necessary. They are not usually soaked before cooking, except for blondes, which are harder and thicker-skinned and will save two hours of soaking in warm water. Cooking time varies according to variety, origin and presentation (shelled or not). This ranges from a few minutes for coral Lentils to 40 or 45 minutes for others. The salt should only be added at the end of the cooking process to prevent them from hardening.

Recipe ideas :

  • They are made into soups, velvets or purees. For a tasty soup, add a lentil purée with shellfish stock and cream.
  • They are also prepared in salads, with shallot and a few bacon if desired. The salad will be better if you add the vinaigrette – to mustard, it suits them well – while the lentils are still warm or warm.
  • They can simmer in the oven with a piece of meat – veal or pork shank, sausages, white or smoked ham – or with fish. According to amateurs, the green lentil would go particularly well with meat, while red would be better suited to fish.
  • Several traditional French recipes prepare them with game birds – such as duck or partridge.
  • When combined with rice in a vegetable stew, as is the case in the Mediterranean basin, it produces a particularly nutritious vegetarian dish. To stay in tune, we dare to use seasonings such as lemon, turmeric or saffron.
  • In North America, to make a vegetarian Chinese pâté (shepard’s pie in English), traditional ground beef is replaced by lentils: a layer of lentil puree at the bottom of the dish, a layer of corn kernels, then a layer of mashed potatoes. Bake and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • In India, the lentil, called dhal, follows rice very closely as a staple food. Many varieties are cultivated, which are of course prepared in 1,000 ways. One of these very tasty dhal soups is made with coral lentils, a paste made of crushed ginger and garlic, turmeric, hot green peppers, cumin, garam masala and chopped chives.
    The lentils are rinsed and cleaned, then cooked for half an hour in water with garlic and ginger puree, turmeric and green peppers. They are then crushed with a wooden spoon and cooked for an additional ten minutes. Garlic, peppers and cumin are fried in a pan, then the lentil purée is added and cooked for two or three minutes. At the very end, garam masala and chives are added.

History of the lentil

The term “lentille”, which comes from the Latin lenticula, diminutive of lentil, appeared in the French language in the 12th century. By analogy of form, the food will give its name to the glass objects used in the manufacture of optical instruments, then to the glasses and contact Lentils.

One of the first legumes to be domesticated – 9,000 or 10,000 years ago, probably at the same time as wheat – the lentil comes from the fertile crescent of the Near East. Remains from this period have been found in northern Syria on the banks of the Euphrates River. Apart from crop escapes, it is rarely found in the wild. Its cultivation spread to Greece and southern Bulgaria with the development of Neolithic agriculture, and it reached Crete 6,000 years before our era. In the Bronze Age, it was known in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Germany and France.

The lentil was highly valued in the Egypt of the Pharaohs. Remains of these have been found in tombs in Thebes dating back to 2,400 B.C., and frescoes from the time of Rameses II show that lentil soup was consumed in Egypt. The Assyrians also knew it: documents indicate that it was grown in Babylon’s famous hanging gardens in the 8th century BC.

In ancient Greece, it was considered to be the food of the poor. From a rich new man of the time, it was euphemistically said that he no longer liked lentils.

To go further

Protein complementarity: not so complicated!

Legumes are among the most protein-rich foods from plant sources. However, unlike animal proteins, legumes generally have a low content of methionine (an amino acid essential to the body), which makes their proteins incomplete. However, people who eat little or no animal protein can combine legumes with cereal products or nuts, which then allows them to obtain complete proteins (which contain all essential amino acids). In adults, it is not necessary to seek this complementarity within the same meal, as obtaining it on the same day is usually sufficient. However, in children, adolescents and pregnant women, it is preferable to achieve protein complementarity in the same meal.

Organic Gardening

Although it is possible, it is not very interesting to grow the lentil in the family garden because it requires a lot of space and is relatively unproductive. However, it can be grown as a green manure: as seed, it can be used with expired lentils that were originally intended for food.