Red lentils – what are they?
Lentils are a legume plant, one of the oldest crops. And no, they are not vegetables. There are a large number of varieties or types which differ from each other both in the color of the grains and in the taste.
The red and yellow types of lentils are the most common in Russia and Asia. In Europe, the green ones, the black and brown ones in America. One of the properties of red lentils is their high vegetable protein content; soybeans and peas only surpass it.
The following article describes the properties of red lentils compared to other types and a recipe with vegetables and mushrooms to cook this food quickly.
Types of lentils – Differences
Red or orange lentils have no shells, so they have the best digestibility properties. As well as, its cooking time is less. They are the most suitable for preparing soups and pot dishes. In India, it is common to prepare one of the leading national dishes: dhal, a soup with spices and ghee butter.
The differences between the greens and browns are their taste. This has a slight umami flavor similar to mushrooms and is used mainly in French cuisine. Brown lentils have different properties, such as their nutty aroma. However, they are the most complex to tenderize.
Red lentils are one of the foods with a high content of vegetable fiber (more than a third of the dry weight). Another of their properties is that they have a shallow glycemic index.
The value is approximately 20 units for the red variety and about 30 units for the green variety. As for the number of calories in this type of bean, it is approximately 280 kcal. What makes red lentils an ideal choice for a low-calorie and nutritious diet.
Red lentils – properties
The main properties of red lentils are their extremely high content of vegetable proteins (around 15 g per 100 g of dry product).
They are food with low-fat content and gluten-free in its composition. Including red lentils in a gluten-free diet is an excellent way to provide high-quality carbohydrates.
Red lentils can be cooked as a garnish and a base for soups. It can even be included in flour for baking or preparing gluten-free pasta.
A disadvantage of red lentils is the presence of phytic acid or phytates—an antinutrient, which impairs the body’s ability to absorb some minerals¹.
To minimize the effect of phytates, it is recommended to pre-soak the beans and drain the water. In addition, these legumes can damage some people’s digestive system due to excessive fermentation and the formation of gases in the stomach².
How are red lentils cooked?
To cook red lentils, you should start with the preliminary washing. Although they are packaged, they are generally cleaned; shell residue may remain during production. For this, they must be poured into water sufficient to cover them. A 3 to 5-hour soak in warm water is enough. The amount of water for cooking red lentils is 1 – 2.
That is 1 cup of red lentils for every 2 cups of water. The cooking time depends on the variety, although it is about 20 minutes.
How to cook red lentils in 30 minutes
Soak legumes for about 20 minutes in warm water and rinse. Boil 2 cups of water in a pot. Add 1 cup of red lentils. Pour the grains into the boiling water. Reduce heat to a minimum. Cook for 10 to 30 minutes (depending on the degree and texture you like best).If foam forms, remove it with a spoon. Add salt, spices, and oil at the end of cooking. Tip: Coconut oil goes perfectly with this type of legume.
Cooking time according to the types of lentils:
- Reds – 20 minutes
- Yellow – 10 to 15 minutes.
- Greens – 20-25 minutes (with the lid closed)
- Brown: soak for 2 hours. Boil for 30-45 minutes (with the lid closed)
- White – soak for 2 hours before cooking, boil for 30-40 minutes.
Red lentil recipes with vegetables and mushrooms – Easy and delicious
Red lentils are food from the legume family. Although each type of lentil has unique recipes for cooking, they are ideal to combine with vegetables. The most common recipes are preparing hot dishes and substituting meat with veggie burgers. More complex and darker lentils can be used in cold salads because they remain firm after cooking.
The flavor pairs well with carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini, although red lentils are suitable to pair with almost all vegetables. The spicy notes appear when previously fried onions or garlic are added to the dish and when its flavor can be highlighted with spices. The classics are curry, turmeric, paprika, and hot red pepper.
- 200 grams of red lentils
- 100 grams of beans
- 200 grams of zucchini
- 1 unit of red pepper
- Two cloves of garlic
- One fresh tomato
- 20g coconut oil
- 20g ghee butter
- One leek
- 150 grams of tofu in cubes
- 80 g mushrooms (optional)
- Spices: paprika, black pepper, salt, turmeric.
Red lentils are soaked, washed, and pre-boiled as above. The vegetables are washed and cut into cubes: beans, bell pepper, zucchini, tomato, and leek and fried for 20 minutes in coconut oil over medium heat. Add 100 cc of water little by little to avoid burning. Once the liquid is reduced, the heat level increases and the mushrooms and garlic are added.
Cook for another 10 minutes until we have well-cooked red lentils and tender vegetables. In the end, the ghee butter is added, enough water so that they do not remain dry, and spices to enhance the flavor.
Benefits and properties of red lentils for health
One of the essential benefits of red lentils is their high fiber content. 100 g of dried lentils contain approximately 30 g of fiber—a carbohydrate necessary to improve digestion and properly function the metabolism.
One of the properties of lentils is that they are considered natural prebiotics. They are one of the main foods recommended by doctors to improve intestinal microflora.
Other benefits of red lentils are their high polyphenol content. These molecules reduce inflammation in the body and help fight diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular system diseases. In addition, eating them regularly has been shown to reduce the acidity of gastrointestinal juice and ultimately positively affect the acid-base balance in the body³.
Contraindications of red lentils Do they cause gas?
The composition of the rind of red lentils generates an increase in the fermentation processes in the stomach; in other words, they cause gas. For this reason, cooking these beans is not recommended for people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and gallbladder. Also, like other legumes, it is strictly contraindicated in the presence of an acute phase of hemorrhoids, as it can lead to severe complications and even internal bleeding.
As we have already mentioned, another of the contraindications of red lentils is their high phytic acid content. This molecule reduces the bioavailability of phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and zinc if consumed in excess. Although eating a portion of legumes often, the body will not suffer any damage. Daily and excessive consumption of many red lentils and other peas, soybeans, and beans can trigger these types of problems.
- Red lentils are a type of healthy legume used in the kitchen of most countries in the world.
- How are red lentils cooked? These legumes are the easiest to prepare since they have almost no skin and can be cooked in just 20 minutes.
- An easy recipe with red lentils is to combine it with vegetables, coconut oil, and mushrooms mixed with spices and ghee butter to bring out the flavor.
- One of the benefits of red lentils is their high protein and vegetable fiber, which are essential for those who carry out a vegetarian diet.
- Contraindications of red lentils can include the presence of antinutrients such as phytic acid that impair the absorption of minerals. As well as the ability to cause fermentation in the stomach. However, this only applies after excessive consumption of this type of legume.