Crimson Lentils[ PURCHASE INFO ]
Crimson Lentils: Crimson Lentils (Lens Esculenta) are shelled, orange colored lentils. They are high in protein like any legume, bean or lentil, and are lens shaped ( the word Lentil is derived from the Latin word lens ). Crimson lentils are not well suited to sprouting, removing the shell also removes the ability to sprout. Because they have no shell Crimson Lentils also cook much faster than other lentils. Just 5 minutes is all that's required. Soaking isn't necessary either. In fact, because they cook so quickly these lentils have a reputation for "losing their shape" and can make a great thickener for soups and sauces. Lentils are grown worldwide, they are drought tolerant and now grow wild in drier, warmer climates. It is estimated that more than 50 types of lentils are grown in India alone, and about half of the world's lentil production is from India. Because they do well in dry climates lentils are also a major export of Canada. Their high protein content and easy cultivation make lentils an excellent food source in third world countries. A lentil plant is a climbing vine, similar to pea plants, but lentils carry just 2 seeds or lentils in each pod. Whole crimson lentils aren't crimson at all. The dull brown hull is barely recognizable. It's only after the hull is removed that the crimson/orange color becomes evident.
Lentils are particulalry high in protein. In fact, lentils are second only to soybeans with about 25% protein. The protein is readily digistable, more so than animal proteins. In addition to the high protein content, crimson lentils are also a good source of fiber, carbohydrates, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, and zinc. And they're cholestrol free! Because of their protein levels lentils are very popular amoung vegetarian cultures. Lentils combine well with rice, curry, sage, and other popular spices. Their gregarious nature makes them a popular ingredient in many dishes in the Near East. Crimson lentils have a significantly lower fiber content than green varieties, but are still a very nutricious legume. In general, lentils are considered to be one of the 5 healthiest foods! Don't be alarmed when cooking Crimson Lentils, they tend to lose that fun crimson color for a yellow/gold hue.
Where to buy: Crimson Lentils