Ways To Cook With Lentils


Lentils are seeds, high in fiber and protien

Last week my friend Olga generously gave me a bag filled with superfoods –  several types of raw nuts, seeds, chia, hemp, grains, wheat flour and lentils. I was very grateful to be the recipient of this bounty and promised to make beautiful meals with my gifts. 

My father taught me how to make lentil soup as a kid and the recipe is a family staple. Sometimes I modify that recipe, spicing it with curry, turmeric and ginger for an Indian flare. I thought I’d use the legumes first, as I was most familiar cooking with them. But then I realized, the only way I’ve ever cooked lentils is in soup form. 

What other ways can lentils be used? I did a little reading and found a few interesting alternative uses.

As stuffing. This hearty fiber is perfect for fillings and it’s a great meat substitute. Use as the base for stuffed peppers or in a pita with mixed veggies. If you’re ambitious, try your hand at  lentil stuffed samosas (yum). 

Bake them. Make a variety of casserole dishes with lentils and beans along with your favorite vegetables and herbs. And yes, you can add cheese. There are many combinations to experiment with.

In salad. Toss cooked lentils with greens, carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Add oil, vinegar and seasonings. Try lentils with beets, oranges and feta for a tangy fresh taste. There are countless combinations of lentil salad blends.

I decided to go with a take on the lentil salad option. I used what I had in the house – tomatoes, onion, garlic and the sunflower seeds my friend gave me. The tomatoes added a tartness that complimented the rich, warm flavor of the red lentils. I plated my creation on fresh raw spinach. The combination of the smooth lentils, crispy greens and crunchy sunflower seeds made for a sophisticated texture.The main player here is the toasted sunflower seeds, don’t omit them!  Here’s the recipe. Give this superfood meal a try!

Lentil Salad
Red Lentils Spinach Salad
(Serves 2)

1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1 bag baby spinach
1 medium onion
1 large tomato
5 cloves garlic
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  • Loosely chop the garlic and onion. In a large skillet sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent (medium/low heat). Add in ¼ cup of sunflower seeds, mix and toast until lightly brown.
  • Add 1 cup of lentils and 2 cups of water into the skillet. Chop the tomato and add to the mixture. Season with salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper, mix and cover. Cook for 15-20 minute until the lentils are soft. Don’t over cook! Mushy lentils are no good.
  • In a small frying pan, toast the rest of the sunflower seeds in oil and set aside. These will be used to top the salad.
  • Lay the spinach on a flat dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Scoop out the lentil veggie mixture and place in the center of the dish on the bed of spinach. Top the lentils with the toasted sunflower seeds. Served warm or at room temperature. Either way this meal is delish!

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