Simple and full of bags of flavour

SERVES:  4
PREP TIME: 20 mins
COOKING TIME: 50 mins
DIFFICULTY: easy
IDEAL FOR: family, easy meal, midweek meal
BUDGET: £

This is a great recipe if you have a vegetarian or vegan in the house.

It’s not too tricky to adapt so that all food requirements are covered.

And you don’t lose your mind trying to do multiple meals to please everyone.

Believe me, I know!

And what easier ingredient to use than lentils?

They’re cheap and full of goodies; iron, fibre, Vitamin A & B.

And they’re great on taking on flavours.

So here’s a little rundown on these little dried legumes.

Plus some tips on cooking them.

What are lentils?

OK, let’s start at the top… what are they?

Well, they’re part of the legume fam.

With things like beans, peanuts, and peas.

Sometimes called “pulses”.

They’re really versatile for things like soups, stews, salads and side dishes.

Some interesting facts…

Lentils are the oldest pulse crops and one of the earliest domesticated crops.

Egyptians, Romans and Hebrews all had lentils as a food source.

Archaeologists have found lentil artefacts dating back to 8000 B.C.

They’re even been mentioned in the Bible!

Types of lentils & basic cooking times

You don’t need to soak lentils before you cook them.

Just cover them with stock or water, bring the pan to a boil, pop the lid on and simmer until the lentils absorb the liquid and soften.

A general rule of thumb is about 3 cups of liquid for each cup of dry lentils.

The lentils will swell in size, but they don’t absorb the extra water so just drain them when they’re done.

Most lentils take between 20 to 40 mins to cook.

Brown lentils

  • Don’t hold their shape as well as French or black lentils.
  • Use in soups, curries, or casseroles
  • Hob: 15 to 20 minutes
  • Slow cooker: 4 hours on high, 8 hours on low

Green lentils

  • Similar to brown lentils with a slightly peppery flavour
  • Hob: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Slow cooker: 4 to 5 hours on high, 8 to 9 hours on low

French green lentils

  • A bit firmer than other green lentils so hold their shape well
  • Great for salads and soups
  • Hob: 20 to 35 minutes
  • Slow cooker: 4 hours on high, 7 to 8 hours on low

Red and yellow lentils

  • Often used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking.
  • They get soft when cooked so are good as a thickener in soups and stews but also get used in Indian dals etc
  • They have a slightly sweet flavour
  • Hob: 20 to 35 minutes
  • Slow cooker: 4 hours on high, 7 to 8 hours on low

Black lentils

  • Hold their shape well
  • Hob: 35 to 50 minutes
  • Slow cooker: 4 hours on high, 7 to 8 hours on low

Note:

  • Lentils have a long shelf life when stored in a cool, dry place, but are best when eaten within a year
  • Older lentils can take twice as long to cook

Spicy sausage and lentils casserole

Course Main Course
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Cost £

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 Italian-style pork sausages (good quaility)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 100 g red lentils
  • 600 ml chicken stock (homemade or a good quaility stock)
  • 200 g chopped tomatoes
  • 150 g cooked or canned puy lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

Instructions

  • Over a medium-high heat, heat the oil in a large casserole (with a lid).
    Add in the sausages and brown them all over, then transfer to a plate.
  • Next, add into the same casserole dish (don't clean out after the sausages), the onion, carrot, garlic and chilli flakes, cover and cook gently for 10 mins until softened and lightly golden.
  • After 10 mins, take off the lid and stir in the cumin, paprika and tomato purée, and cook for another minute.
    Stir in the red lentils, chicken stock, chopped tomatoes and sausages and bring to a simmer, stirring to stop the lentils sticking to the base of the casserole.
  • Now, simply, cover and simmer for 40 mins until the sausages are tender, the lentils are cooked and the sauce is thick. (If the sauce looks watery, cook for 10 mins with the lid off to thicken it).
    Now, stir in the puy lentils and most of the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Scatter over the remaining parsley and serve.
    *you could serve with bread, couscous or rice.

Notes

References:

Spruceeats

Delicious magazine