Season for Lentils Available Year Round

Lentils Described

The lentil is a type of pulse, a bushy plant from the legume family, grown for its delicious little seeds we all know and love. Popular in parts of Europe – namely Greece – and a staple throughout much of the Middle East and India, this tiny, lens-shaped pulse has long been used as a meat substitute, but deserves recognition all on its own. Lentil hues range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black. The varieties you’re most likely to encounter are the French or European lentil and the Egyptian lentil. Their flavors vary subtly from variety to variety but are generally characterized by hearty, dense and mildly nutty notes.

How to Buy and Store Lentils

You can purchase lentils either in pre-packaged containers or from bulk bins. When it comes to buying foods in bulk, we’re huge advocates. But make sure the bins are covered and that the store is reputable (preferably a health food store) and has good product turnover so as to ensure maximum freshness. Wherever you get your lentils, make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that the lentils are whole and not cracked (for the most part). Store your lentils in an airtight container at room temperature where they will keep for up to a year.

How to Cook Lentils

It doesn’t take much to make a delicious lentil dish that is hearty, full of flavor and comforting on cold winter nights (or summer ones!). Unlike most legumes, lentils don’t need soaking before you cook them. Choose your lentil variety wisely: Some will hold their shape well when cooked, while others will collapse once cooked (brown and green ones hold up best). Lentils pair wonderfully with rice, create delicious hot or cold salads, soups and stews. One of the most notable showcases for the lentil is the spicy East Indian dal – yum! Try our delicious Easy Lentil Salad with Veggies and Radicchio.

Lentils can also be sprouted, upping their nutritional value. 

Health Benefits of Lentils

Lentils are an excellent vegetarian source of protein and can make Meatless Mondays an affair to look forward to and remember. Packed with dietary fiber, lenitls are great for your cholesterol and managing blood-sugar disorders. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals and two B-vitamins – all with virtually no fat. They’re brimming with iron too – making lentils an energy-promoting food for all you iron-deficient, sluggish souls out there. Lentils should be prized for packing in the healthful properties without packing on the pounds. 

Why Buy Natural and Organic Lentils

Sometimes lentils are available in cans, and – while not nutritionally deficient – we air on the side of caution when it comes to all canned goods owing to the controversial chemical BPA (Bisphenol A) used in the canning process. So, stick with the bulk bins at your local health food store for all varieties of lentils. If you can find organic lentils – all the better! – to avoid harmful pesticides and chemicals used in the cultivation of conventional lentils.