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Quick-Cooking Lentils

Fine Cooking Issue 62
Photos: Scott Phillips
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Lentils have a lot going for them. They don’t need soaking, they cook in about 30 to 45 minutes, they’re good for you (soybeans are the only legume with more protein), they have an earthy, slightly sweet and peppery flavor that pairs well with lots of other foods, and they come in a variety of sizes and colors, five of which are shown at right. Common brown lentils and occasionally French lentils can be found in supermarkets; you can find the others in specialty stores, international groceries, and online (try Kalustyan’s or Phipps Country Store & Farm)..

Common brown lentils are the mainstay of traditional lentil soup because they tend to fall apart and thicken the soup.

French green lentils, allso called lentilles du Puy, hold their shape well and make an attractive salad or warm side dish. They’re especially nice as a bed for fatty fish like tuna or salmon.
Beluga, so called because of their resemblance to caviar, hold their shape well, and go well with fish, particularly salmon because their colors contrast beautifully.
Split red, also called pink lentils and in India, masoor dal, become very soft when cooked, making them ideal for soups and purées.
Spanish pardina, also called Spanish brown lentils, hold their shape well and make a nice accompaniment to chicken, duck, and game birds.

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