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Music City Missy

LOL - but I do prefer them though I don't pay that much for them....

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Joined: Dec 9, 2005


Posted to Thread #3443 at 3:13 pm on Sep 9, 2006

Here is some information from CI:

Lentils 101
Lentils come in various sizes and colors, so does that mean there's a difference in taste?

Lentils come in various sizes and colors, and the differences in flavor and texture are surprisingly distinct. I asked tasters to evaluate five kinds of lentils in my soup, rating them in terms of taste, texture, and appearance. Here's what we found, with the lentils listed in order of preference.

Lentils du Puy
These lentils are smaller than the more common brown and green varieties. While they take their name from the city of Puy in central France, they are also grown in North America and Italy. Dark olive green, almost black, in color, with mottling, these lentils were praised for their "rich, earthy, complex flavor" and "firm yet tender texture."

Black Lentils
Like lentils du Puy, black lentils are slightly smaller than the standard brown lentils. They have a deep black hue that tasters likened to the color of caviar. In fact, some markets refer to them as beluga lentils. Tasters liked their "robust, earthy flavor" and "ability to hold their shape while remaining tender." A few tasters found the color of the soup made with them "too dark and muddy."

Brown Lentils
These larger lentils are the most common choice in the market and are a uniform drab brown. Tasters commented on their "mild yet light and earthy flavor." Some found their texture "creamy," while others complained that they were "chalky." But everyone agreed that they held their shape and were tender inside.

Green Lentils
Another larger lentil, this variety is the same size as the brown lentil and is greenish-brown in color. Although tasters accepted the "mild flavor" of these lentils and liked the way they "retain their shape while being tender," most complained that the soup made from them was "a bit anemic looking."

Red Lentils
These small orange-red lentils "completely disintegrate when cooked." They made a soup that looked "anemic."

Here is the recipe from the article for soup - the soup is very good but I use the basic method here to cook them as a side dish. The key really is to sweat your veggies and then sweat your lentils with the veggies and a little salt. Gives them a nice texture!

My tweaks - sometimes I use the bacon but most of the time I just saute everying in olive oil. I vary the spices based on what the fish or meat is I am serving with them and coordinate the spices - but I always use a little thyme and a bay leaf. Of course, I cook until the lentils are tender and I keep it where there is some liquid but not too much (in other words, not as much as for a soup). And of course, I don't puree.

The most popular way to serve it at my house is to serve over a bed of basamati rice/quinoa mix topped with a nice grilled piece of salmon. My teenage daughter even thinks this is the most wonderful meal. She LOVES the French lentils and will eat them by the bowlful which is why I always cook the rice/quinoa mixture with the pot of lentils so she is getting complete protein.

Hearty Lentil Soup with Fragrant Spices

Written: 1/2004
Lentils du Puy, sometimes called French green lentils, are our first choice for this recipe, but brown, black, or regular green lentils are fine, too. Note that cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentils used. Lentils lose flavor with age, and because most packaged lentils do not have expiration dates, try to buy them from a store that specializes in natural foods and grains. Before use, rinse and then carefully sort through the lentils to remove small stones and pebbles. The soup can be made in advance. After adding the lemon juice in step 2, cool the soup to room temperature and refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To serve, heat it over medium-low until hot, then stir in the parsley.

Makes about 2 quarts, serving 4 to 6 3 slices bacon (about 3 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large onion , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots , peeled and chopped medium (about 1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 ounces), drained
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 cup lentils (7 ounces), rinsed and picked over
1 teaspoon table salt
ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves

1. Fry bacon in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to high, add wine, and bring to simmer. Add chicken broth and water; bring to boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard bay leaf.

2. Puree 3 cups soup in blender until smooth, then return to pot; stir in lemon juice and heat soup over medium-low until hot, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons cilantro and serve, garnishing each bowl with some of remaining cilantro.

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