Lisa Schölzel

Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

My friendship with lentils begins with my mom and how she prepares them: alongside spaetzle and sausages — a delicacy from the Swabian Alb. This region of Germany is home to the so-called “Leisa” lentils — traditional lentil varieties that would be lost by the 1960s. They were rediscovered in 2006 at the Vavilov seed bank in St. Petersburg. There, in the world's oldest seed repository, the Leisa lentil seed lay dormant, a veritable treasure trove of many things that can grow and flourish on this earth and feed mankind. After about three years, the seed was finally ready to be cultivated in its place of origin — and it was done with success! As a result of the high demand for these legumes, an organic-food association of now more than 100 Bioland farms was founded. These farms are responsible for sowing, nurturing, and caring for the three varieties, which get dispersed all throughout the world.

Maybe not all of you have heard of the elusive Leisa lentils, but almost every pantry contains a forgotten supply of lentils lying around somewhere, right? Whether it’s black lentils, yellow or red, each variety, apart from the taste of course, begs this question: How do they taste when cooked? Do they stay firm, making them the ideal protein-rich ingredient in salads, or do they lose their shape and turn into deliciously creamy dal? In this article, you'll find more tips and tricks for how to properly cook these very versatile legumes. Once you learn the basics to how they cook, there’s no end to what you can make. So read on to get a brief sampling of what you can conjure up with the forgotten lentils in your pantry.

Recipes with black lentils

Elegant beluga lentils remain firm, even with a long cooking time — their thicker skin keeps them from falling apart. This makes them a great side dish, but they also make a great foundation for salads (laced with roasted vegetables and feta, for example). Lentil salads can be individually mixed with whatever you have at home. Our chef Christian tosses them with buffalo mozzarella, arugula, and prosciutto, while our chef Johanna prefers pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and ras el hanout — yum! The small green puy lentils from France also stay intact when cooked and can be swapped in for any of the aforementioned recipes.

Recipes with yellow and red lentils

When cooked, yellow and red lentils practically melt into a creamy pool of deliciousness. Therefore, they only need a short time on the stove before they’re ready to eat. These lentils are perfect for dal (check out this even simpler dal recipe), soup (this one has only 5 ingredients!), or lentil bolognese. They work great in creamy curries, stews, croquettes, and patties.

Recipes with green and brown lentils

These are the lentils no Swabian household should be without! In terms of Swabian cuisine, they’re often made with spaetzle or used as the hearty components of a stew. Green and brown lentils have a strong flavor, which make them great candidates for salads (check out this one with apple and celery). If you plan to cook them for longer, much like their red and yellow counterparts, these darker-hued lentils will break down into a creamy substance. They would also work in a lentil bolognese. Usually, these are the lentils to use when a recipe calls for plain lentils.

What's your favorite way to prepare lentils? Let us know in the comments or upload your favorite lentils recipe to our app to share it with the community!

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