Top 10 Uses for the Lentil

There was a time when Pullman, Washington, was known as “the lentil capital of the world”.  While that is not true now, Pullman, Washington still celebrates their lentil influence with the National Lentil Festival.  

If you are not familiar with lentils, they are by no means new, dating back to ancient cultures thousands of years old.  Lentils are legumes (member of the pea family) and come in all kinds of colors such as green, brown, black, red, orange, yellow, and gold. 

Lentils are a superfood that are rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, and lentils are very affordable and can be easily stored in the pantry in a plastic bag.  Lentils are also an excellent source of fiber, protein, iron, and folate. 

Considering that George Washington Carver was made great because found over 300 uses for peanuts, we are going to do something a little less great with 10 uses for Lentils. 

1. Soup Them

Yes, you can make Lentil soup.  There are various recipes that you can find online, and I found one that required 2 cups of dry lentils and 8 cups of water.  Everything else is various vegetables, spices, oils, and vinegar.  The fun of cooking is trying combinations of different materials to produce different results, and the addition of lentils make it something extraordinary. 

2. Salad Them

It is possible to make a lentil salad that is full of nutritional goodness when mixed with healthy vegetables, but they can also be tossed (pun intended) into a salad for a little bit of extra goodness there as well.  The whole point of any salad is to put as many diverse ingredients together to create a singular taste sensation, and lentils cook very easily and can be put in for a tasteful variety, hot or cold. 

3. Mujadara

If you aren’t familiar with this Lebanese dish, then you should really make Mujadara from lentils, rice, and caramelized onions, and get really familiar with it (by eating it, in case that wasn’t clear).  This ancient traditional Middle Eastern recipe is as simple as cooking large brown whole lentils, steaming up some rice, and then adding onions cooked in oil.  You can also add cumin or salt to taste, or get really creative for something very interesting. 

4. As a Meat Substitute

For those of you who prefer a vegetarian diet, or for those who want to try something more nutritious, you should consider lentils as a substitute for meat in your favorite recipe.  For example, say that you use hamburger meat in your spaghetti sauce.  Instead of doing that, try using 150 grams of lentils for every 500 grams of ground beef.  You can choose from black, brown, or green lentils, and various types will produce various results, but always in good taste!

5. Lentil…Burgers?

Yes, you heard that correctly, as it is possible to create an American favorite without the cow.  It will produce a different and vegan flavor, and making lentil burgers can be tricky without a binder.  You cannot attempt cooking lentils without this binding ingredient, and some recipes suggest oat flour or even breadcrumbs.  Brown lentils, pre-cooked or steamed are suggested for this type of recipe, and you can add all kinds of vegetables and flavorings of your own making. 

6. Lentil Chili

If you want to put lentils in your chili instead of kidney beans, it is quite a tasteful alternative.  There are various recipes that are available online that can make this an incredible delicacy, and a vegan alternative to a dish traditionally made with meat. 

7. Lentil Dip

Just because you’re out of hummus, it doesn’t mean that you are out of dip.  In fact, by using lentil beans with some tahini, garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil can create a dip for your appetizers that can be equally as good.  You can even add your own types of herbs and spices such as cumin, paprika, salt, and cilantro, or maybe even some kind of hot sauce or red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.  It’s up to you!

8. Lentils as Flour

If you are looking for a more healthy alternative to traditional flour (mostly milled wheat grains), you should grind some lentil beans into a powder and use it as gluten-free substitute to traditional recipes like pancakes, cookies, and even bread. 

9. Casseroles/Pizzas

Yes, I am doing a two for one on this particular option, but it shows how versatile a food that lentils are.  Just a 1/3 cup of dried lentils can add some interesting flavor to you pizza recipe, and adding them to a casserole can really accentuate the flavor, textures, not to mention the nutritional value. 

10. Lentils as Fertilizer

Yes, while most of these other examples focused on cooking lentils, or eating them, this example is about how you can use lentils to grow other foods.  Namely, how lentils are a very excellent source of natural fertilizer that can be made into a powder by crushing. This powder is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash (an alkaline potassium compound) which work together to be quickly absorbed by plant roots to improve growth. 

So, with the fertilizer use, you will be able to not only grow, but make your lentils into some great recipes.  Just because we listed ten on this list doesn’t meant that is the only uses for lentils.  Please leave your suggestions in the comments.