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Food glossary

Lentils

Lentils

Part of the family of pulses, lentils are actually the seeds of a plant. The seeds vary in size, shape and colour and so a variety of different lentils are available. Unlike dried beans, lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking. They are a popular vegetarian food, due to their high protein content and are often served in winter soups and casseroles because they are very filling.

Green

A staple food since biblical times, large green lentils (sometimes known as continental lentils) are rich in protein and retain their shape after cooking. Canned green lentils with added spices are also available.

Uses: Green lentils can be served hot as a vegetable or cold in salads. They can be added to soups and stews to add flavour and to thicken and are also the basis of many vegetarian main courses such as lasagnes, moussakas and bakes. Canned lentils are cooked and ready to use and can be served hot or cold and used as for dried green lentils.

To store: Keep in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.

To cook: Rinse the lentils. To serve 2, place 100g of lentils in a pan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 40-45 minutes or until soft. Drain and serve as a vegetable or rinse and allow to cool before using in salads.

Puy

Considered by gourmets to be the best type of lentil, Puy lentils are an attractive dark green colour with blue marbling. True Puy lentils come from the region of France, Le Puy, which has a unique climate and volcanic soil in which the lentils thrive. Puy lentils retain their shape on cooking and have a delicious, unique peppery flavour.

Uses: Puy lentils can be served hot or cold as a vegetable or salad accompaniment to poultry, fish, meat and game or added to soups and casseroles.

To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.

To cook: Rinse the lentils. To serve 2, place 100g of lentils in a pan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes or until just cooked, but with a little bite. Drain and serve.

Split red

The most common type of lentils, these small bright orange discs disintegrate on cooking and form a thick, soft purée.

Uses: Split red lentils are widely used in Indian cookery and are the basis of the popular spicy vegetarian dish, dhal. Red lentils add a delicious flavour as well as a smooth texture to soups and stews.

To store: Keep in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.

To use: Sprinkle split red lentils into soups or stews and cook for 20 minutes until tender.