Varieties of Lentils
Small Brown Lentils (Pardina)
Brown Pardina Lentils are an incredible legume and though they are increasingly difficult to find in grocery stores in the U.S. they are the lentil of choice in the Mediterranean region. These little lentils have a slight bluish-purple undertone to their brown skin. Small Brown Lentils are a great alternative protein source and are the perfect substitution for vegan recipes. Brown lentils have a rich, earthy flavor and their firm texture allows them to hold their shape well during cooking. Palouse Brand Brown Lentils have many nutritional benefits including being a healthy source of plant-based protein and other essential nutrients like, iron, folate, magnesium, and potassium. We love to use our lentils in a wide variety of dishes from vegan lentil burgers to carrot cake.
Black Beluga Lentils
Beluga lentils are tiny black round lentils that resemble Beluga caviar giving them a nickname of caviar lentils. They have an earthy flavor with nutty undertones and will retain their shape well when cooking. Other varieties of lentils will become mushy after cooking, and since Beluga lentils will keep their firmness in the cooking process they are well suited for a large variety of recipes including salads and side dishes. Like brown lentils, beluga lentils are packed with nutritional benefits like protein, fiber and other vitamins and minerals.
Red lentils have a vibrant red-orange color and are one of the most popular varieties of lentils. Though they are a variety in their own, they are not grown from a specific variety of lentil plant, red lentils are hulled and split from brown or green lentils. In addition to their bright coloring, red lentils have a more mild, sweet flavor when compared to other types of lentils. These lentils will break down more and have a more soft and creamy texture, which makes them great for using as a thickening agent in soups and stews. Again red lentils much like other varieties of lentils are filled with nutritional benefits like vitamins and other essential nutrients.
Green lentils are small round lentils that are a pale to dark green color. Their flavoring is very different from other varieties of lentils in that, along with their robust, earthy taste, they also have a slight peppery flavor. Green lentils are much more similar to beluga lentils and brown lentils in their texture and will hold their firm texture during cooking. These lentils are also great for using as a healthy source of plant-based protein, and dietary fiber, making them an excellent meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan recipes.
Golden lentils, which are often referred to as yellow lentils, are widely used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisines. They have a mild, slightly nutty flavoring and become soft and creamy during the cooking process making them perfect for using to thicken soups, stews and purees. Golden lentils get their vibrant coloring and split appearance because their outer husk is removed. Like our other lentil varieties, golden lentils are rich in protein, dietary fiber, and nutrients like iron, folate, potassium, and magnesium. These brightly colored lentils are often used to make dal, a stew popular in Indian cuisine.
We always recommend using airtight containers to store your lentils. Some containers we have used include, mason jars, air-tight pantry containers, and food safe buckets with gamma lids. Dried lentils should also be stored in a cool, and dry location like a pantry or cupboard, making sure that there aren’t extreme temperature fluctuations as that can affect their texture and flavor. It’s best practice to label and date your containers to help keep track of which lentils to use first. When stored correctly, our lentils can be enjoyed for at least three years.
Lentils do not require soaking before cooking. Unlike some other dried legumes like beans, lentils are quick-cooking and don't have the same toughness or longer cooking times. You can simply rinse them thoroughly and add them directly to your recipe for soups, stews, salads, or other dishes. Cooking times for lentils typically range from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the variety and your desired level of tenderness. Soaking lentils is not necessary and can actually make them mushy if soaked for too long.
Cooking with dried lentils of any variety is incredibly fast and easy, though there are some small time differences based on variety. Lentils can be cooked in water or broth (vegetable, chicken or beef) depending on your recipe and flavor preferences. Our general rule is 3 cups of cooking liquid to 1 cup of dried lentils no matter the variety.
- The first step with all our varieties of lentils is to rinse the lentils under cold water, then place the lentils in a medium saucepan with your chosen cooking liquid and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once boiling, you can reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid leaving a small space for steam to escape.
- The cooking time is where the directions can vary based on variety of lentil.
- Green and Brown lentils will need to simmer about 20-30 minutes to be tender but still firm enough to hold their shape.
- Red, Golden, and Black lentils need less time, about 15-20 minutes and need to be more closely monitored as they can become mushy if overcooked.
- Check that the lentils are tender but not mushy. This can be done through taste testing, or by simply pressing one between your fingers to see if it squishes easily.
- Once your lentils have reached your desired tenderness, you can season them with salt, pepper, and a number of other herbs and spices. It's best to add any seasonings after cooking to avoid tampering with the cooking process.
- The last step before adding your cooked lentils to your favorite recipes is to drain any excess liquid left in the saucepan. Then you'll be able to add your cooked lentils to soups, stews, salads, curries and a cookbook full of other recipes.