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Red Lentils?

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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.

            1. I like to add them to rhubarb with curry flavoring. The consistancy would be like a thick applesauce, and preparation similar in method and time to applesauce.

              1. First off, they turn a sort of tan-yellow when you cook them, so you may need to adjust your color scheme a little..

                Assuming these are split (otherwise, they'd look brown), they will cook even faster than whole lentils. I can't say I've ever heard of eating them "whole", so you'll have to experiment with cooking times, keeping them "solid" while being edible is going to take some fairly fancy timing.

                1. Hi! Cook's Illustrated wrote an article about different types of lentils, and this is what they said about the red lentils:

                  "These small orange-red lentils "completely disintegrate when cooked." They made a soup that looked "anemic."

                  By the way, I highly recommend an online subscription to www.cooksillustrated.com - I've had mine nearly a year now, and if you're into learning about all sorts of cooking things, you will learn so much! I'm only sad that it will probably take me a lifetime to read all of their content - LOL.