The lentil is one of the oldest food crops known. In 2008 Australia was ranked as the world’s 3rd largest exporter of lentils behind Canada and USA. Virtually the entire Australian lentil crop is red lentil, with South Australia and Victoria being the major producers.
Unlike other legumes, lentils don’t need to be soaked prior to cooking. Lentils are usually sold split which means they have been split down the middle to the natural halves of the seed. This means they cook more quickly.
Types of Lentils
- Yellow lentils and red lentils are small and round. They are commonly used in soups and Indian curries.
- Green lentils are larger than other lentils and have a flattened seed. They are sturdier so work well in slow cooking and burgers.
- French, or Puy, lentils are a dark green colour. Even though they are called French Lentils they are grown in Australia. They have a nutty flavour and hold their shape when boiled so are great in salads or a side dish.
Other culinary uses for lentils
- Lentil flour can be used to make a variety of foods.
- Immature pods and sprouted seeds may also be eaten as a vegetable.
A table comparing the nutrient content of different types of legumes can be downloaded here.