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Feb 9, 2007 05:07 PM

Red Lentils?

I bought some red lentils because the color is so lovely (to go with a nice onglet and brussels sprouts cooked with mustard seeds and lemon zest), but now I'm wondering if there is any difference between cooking red lentils and the usual green or brown. Any suggestions would be welcome.

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  1. Red lentils cook much faster than the other varieties and don't hold their shape as well, turning into almost a homogeneous mush.

    I'm not saying that's a bad thing. They're also milder in taste -- almost a blank slate for creative spicing and whatnot. Back in my low-fat days I used them as a base for chili-like stews with varying contents, sometimes traditional, sometimes Cincinnati, sometimes tomatoey almost to a spaghetti-sauce degree, sometimes even like a green chile.

    1. Thanks, Bill. You saved me from a dinner party disaster.

      1. They are used a lot in Indian cooking. With seasonings, they can make a really flavorful puree-type side dish, or wonderful soups. They are more yellow-orange when cooked.

        1. They make a wonderful soup with a split pea sort of consistency.

          1. I use red lentils as a thickener in stews, braises, and soups. Just throw some in at the start of cooking and they melt away, leaving behind a flavourful, healthy and, best of all, automatically thickened sauce or soup.