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Family Matters Newsletter – January 2019   arrow

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Basics of Lentils

Glenda Wentworth, Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, Eagle County
Lentils are easy-to-prepare, versatile and nutritious. They taste slightly peppery and earthy in flavor. Lentils act like chameleons and take on flavor of the dish you are preparing.

Lentils are a good source of fiber, vegetable protein and low in fat. They are also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus and potassium. One of the best parts of lentils are they are relatively quick and easy to prepare. They are also low in cost, making them an economical
source of many nutrients.

There are many types of lentils. Generally, lentils come in dried form; although, you
may find them in ready-to-eat packages. Dry lentils will keep for one year when
stored in an air tight container in a cool, dry place. The brown lentils are the most
common type and the least expensive. Brown lentils hold their texture if they are
properly cooked. There are also green lentils which have a stronger taste and red
lentils that have a sweeter taste.

Cooking Lentils

cooking lentils

  1. Lentils are not complicated; the preparation is easy as lentils do not require soaking. Rinse your lentils with fresh water before boiling to remove any dust or debris.
  2. Cook on a stovetop, using 3 cups of liquid (water, stock, etc.) to 1 cup of dry lentils. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size.
  3. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender. For whole lentils, cook time is typically 15-20 minutes. For split red lentils, cook time is typically only about 5-7 minutes.

Season with salt after cooking – if salt is added before, the lentils will become tough.

Canned lentils are also another great time-saving option – just be sure to rinse them
under fresh water for about one minute in order to reduce the sodium content.


Let’s Talk

Young children may shy away from tasting lentils if they have never tried them before. Remember your child may need to experience a food several times before they taste it. In the beginning, offer lentils in many different dishes such as stews, soups and chili. They are also an excellent substitute for meat in taco and burrito fillings. Lentils can also be used in creative ways in smoothies, omelets, pasta sauces, and even desserts. Lentils are versatile and easy to add to your recipes.


Recipe for Health

Lentil burgers

Tastee Lentil Burgers

Makes 6-8 burgers

  • 1 ¼ cups brown lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup carrots (grated)
  • 3 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 – 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 6-8 slices of cheese (optional)


  1. Place lentils in a colander, rinse in cold water and drain. Children can help with this.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add lentils, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Add onion and carrots, Cook an additional 15 minutes more or until lentils are tender.
  4. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  5. Stir in bread crumbs, egg(s), garlic powder, oregano and salt.
  6. Melt butter or margarine in large skillet. Drop lentil mixture by rounded ½ cupful’s into hot butter or margarine. Flatten mounds into patties and cook until firm and golden brown on both sides.
  7. Top each patty with a thin slice of cheese. (optional)
  8. Serve with buns or bread, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, etc.
  9. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours.

Adapted from