Lentils, good and healthy, are a special ingredient for auspicious recipes. Find out how to use them in the kitchen.
Did you know that lentils are the oldest legume cultivated by man? Since 7000 BC there are traces of their existence, from the small and tasty mountain ones to the brown and red ones of the southern regions. Now they are preparing to triumph on our tables in the New Year's Eve.
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The countless beneficial properties of this legume
Lentils are also known as la meat of the poor, as sources of potassium, iron, phosphorus, folic acid, zinc, copper, magnesium, pantothenic acid, thiamine, niacin and vitamin B6. All these properties make them more digestible than other legumes, also due to their thinner skin. After sowing in January and harvesting in August, we find them dried all year round and in all colors: red, orange, yellow, black and brown.
How to clean lentils in the best way
Like all other legumes, lentils go too wash in cold running water before use, taking care to eliminate waste. A simple trick to understand which lentil to keep and which not, is to eliminate all the shriveled seeds that float once immersed in water. In general, after soaking, it is best to remove the water and rinse them well before cooking.
The importance of slow cooking
Preparation and cooking times vaccording to the size of the legume: for small lentils, such as those from Castelluccio, just half an hour of soaking and twenty minutes of cooking in plenty of boiling water. If you use large lentils, soak them for two hours and then put them to boil for an hour. If you owe them instead accompany with cotechino, boil them for 40 minutes and then finish cooking (at least another 40 minutes), with the meat over low heat. In fact, it is essential for all legumes to cook very slowly, over low heat so that the water "quivers". If cooked over a high flame they never become tender, they break and are emptied. Traditional cooking in clay pots or flask even better as the Tuscan tradition wants for example, they are among the best. Cooking in an earthenware pot gives the dish a special flavor, but takes longer. When cooking with the flame at a minimum it is important to simmer and never boil, continuing to add hot water if necessary. In addition, throughout the cooking, the lentils must be constantly covered by water. To reduce the time you can use the pressure cooker: you proceed by skimming the lentils and closing only when no more foam is formed.
One of our favorite recipes with lentils
To enhance the flavor to the maximum, one of the best recipes is also the simplest and fastest one: the soup. Just fry a clove of garlic with a little chilli in extra virgin olive oil, add the lentils directly and continue adding water until cooked. And finally, serve with croutons and a drizzle of raw oil.
Text by Giulia Ubaldi