When it comes to planning meatless meals, it's important to concentrate on alternative sources of protein. And when it comes to vegetarian protein sources, lentils definitely deserve their place in the spotlight. This anti-aging superfood is a powerhouse of protein, iron, folate and fiber. Several different varieties and colors of lentils are widely available, each of which offers its own flavor and texture profile. Perhaps the most famous is the French Puy lentil, one of the only vegetables in the world to have its own AOC (The appellation d'origine contrôlée, which translates as "controlled designation of origin"). Like wine and cheese in France, Puy lentils are protected for quality and growing conditions, and these little lentils can pack a flavor punch in French cuisine and other dishes. Here's a look at our favorite meatless lentil recipes from all over the web this week.
Image: Kimberley Stakal
We can't get enough of this autumnal pumpkin and lentil stew recipe. Earthy lentils pair up perfectly with the slight sweetness of pumpkin. You can also substitute sweet potatoes, depending on your preferences. Either way, the brightly flavored cilantro oil that accompanies this recipe really jazzes up the subtle flavors.
For a French flavor, try combining lentils and chestnuts for a silky, creamy lentil and chestnut soup. The natural sweetness of chestnuts is highlighted by the addition of molasses. Try puréeing this one according to your own preferences: puréeing half of it lends more texture, while puréeing the whole soup gives you a luxuriously creamy velouté.
Image: Laura Klein
In the winter, farmstands may be looking drab, but this winter vegtable salad is bursting with color and freshness. Radicchio, radishes and carrots add crispness to the earthiness of the lentils.
Another earthy winter vegetable, beets join lentils in this recipe for lentilles de Puy with beets and carrots. This delicious warm salad is perfect for winter evenings: it combines the color of a salad with the zing of the homemade vinaigrette, while also retaining the warmth that we all crave so much during the coler months.