Lentils: Easy, Healthy, Yummy

Lentils are great in stews, soups, and salads. But on The Early Show, resident chef Bobby Flay makes a delicious salad with them.

The best thing about lentils is that they're simple to prepare. You simply sort, remove any debris, then rinse and boil for 15 to 20 minutes. There is no need to soak lentils as you would dried beans. Just remember not to add salt to lentils while cooking, because they could get tough if you do.

The lentil is a cousin of the bean, and both are a part of the legume family. All legumes are seeds that grow within pods. Lentils are shaped like a lens. In fact, lens is the Latin word for lentil.

Lentils are flat and round, and they are the fastest cooking of all dried beans. The three major varieties are le puy (the most intensely flavored lentil); common green or brown lentils; and yellow or red lentils (which are popular in Indian cooking.) The size and appearance of lentils vary, depending on the variety.

HERE IS FLAY'S RECIPE:

Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Beets & Goat Cheese
Serves 4

Roasted Beets

Ingredients:
3 medium beets (red or gold), scrubbed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until cooked through, approximately 45-60 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, peel and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Lentils

Ingredients:
1 medium Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, quartered
1 stalk celery, quartered
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cups dried French green lentils
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound slab bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

  1. Place onion, carrot, celery, bay, thyme and chicken stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the lentils, season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and discard the onion, carrot, celery and herbs.
  2. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the bacon and cook lightly golden brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a dish lined with paper towels. Add the garlic and carrots to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked lentils and bacon to the pan and stir to combine. Stir in the chopped thyme and 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk until emulsified.

Assemble

Ingredients:
4 cups frisee or mixed greens
4 slices goat cheese

Place the frisee in a large bowl, toss with half of the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the roasted beets around the outside of 4 dinner plates. Divide the greens among each plate in the center. Top the frisee with some of the warm lentils and place a slice of the goat cheese on top. Drizzle each salad with the remaining vinaigrette.

  • Tatiana Morales

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