A thousand-year-old vegetable
Cultivated for more than 10,000 years in Western Asia and then in Southern Europe, lentils are among the first pulses cultivated by humans. Discovered in Egyptian tombs, quoted in the Bible and protagonists of many legends, lentils have marked history.
At the time, the lentils had to be sorted before being cooked because of small pebbles mixed with them during the harvest. Current processes now allow us to purchase lentils that have already been sorted and cleaned of their impurities.
Long considered ‘the meat of the poor’ or even ‘the caviar of the poor’, lentils are now consumed all over the world and recognized for their nutritional richness. New recipes are emerging, such as hummus or pasta with lentil flour. They bring certain creativity to the kitchen and are increasingly invited to the Chefs’ table.
Red, coral, green, black ‘beluga’ or even blondes, the lentils make us see all the colours. A diversity that allows us to vary the pleasures and recipes.
Reason #1: A French production
Although France is a small producer on a global scale, the quality and recognition of its production are no less important. Many varieties of lentils are thus protected by labels and appellations.
Among them, we can cite the famous green lentils of Puy AOC since 1996 and AOP since 2008, the green lentils of Berry Label Rouge and IGP, the blond lentils of Saint-Flour IGP, or the pink lentils from Champagne for which an AOC application has been filed.
In addition, by choosing local lentils of French origin, we participate in national trade and the protection of the planet by limiting the transport of goods.
If the coral lentils and the blond lentils are the most consumed in the world, the French lentils, in particular the green lentils from Le Puy, arouse the international enthusiasm to the point of being victims of copies. So remember to check the names indicated on the packages.
Reason #2: Nutritional interests for vegetarians
If lentils are starchy foods, they should be combined with cereal for better absorption of their nutrients and to form complete proteins which contain all the essential amino acids.
Suitable for everyone, their nutritional properties are particularly interesting for athletes and vegetarians. They are a very good source of protein (20% protein when eaten raw, and 10% when cooked), iron, fibre, calcium, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants and they contain group B vitamins.
Of all the legumes, lentils are also the most digestible, their skin being very thin. Gluten-free and low in calories, they fit perfectly into most diets.
Reason #3: An eco-responsible choice
Depending on the variety, the plants grow in different seasons and their seeds that we consume are easy to dry and store. It is, therefore, possible to find them all year long on the shelves of stores, thus respecting the seasonalities.
Consuming lentils also means consuming responsibly. Lentils, which require poor soil to grow, capture nitrogen from the air, nitrogen which they use to grow without the need for fertilizer, fix it in the soil and thus enrich the soil for subsequent crops.
Did you know?
It is indeed this vegetable that gave its name to optical lenses for their round and flat shape.
If the beluga lentil, round and black, is so called, it owes it to its resemblance to the caviar of the same name. However, it becomes lighter during cooking, leaving aside its deep and shiny black colour.
Many vegetable cooking blogs offer gourmet and varied recipes around the lentils. Find our selection of recipes, useful for your daily meals and holiday menus:
Enjoy your meal!
Translated by Malvika Kathpal