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How to add lentils to dishes?

(17 Posts)
rainbowbriite Mon 26-Oct-15 08:25:47

Have read several times about people adding lentils to mince. How do you do this? Do you buy dried lentils and pre soak them or get the ones in tins? And which colour?

megletthesecond Mon 26-Oct-15 08:28:57

Green lentils in tins. They don't need much cooking time so need to go in after veg and meat if you're using it.

HannahHobbins Mon 26-Oct-15 08:29:45

I get dried red ones and just chuck them in most things! Whatever you put them in, add a bit of extra water as they need it to cook. Yum!

HannahHobbins Mon 26-Oct-15 08:30:36

Haven't tried that meg I will try green ones too!

DoreenLethal Mon 26-Oct-15 08:31:54

Put some dried red lentils into a sieve, rinse and then chuck into whatever you are cooking. Usually after everything else is browned and at the same time as adding the liquid eg stock or tomatoes. Add a bit extra water and let them cook for 30 mins. Keep an eye on them and add extra water if it is getting too dense.

Then enjoy. Works fab in soups and curries.

SuburbanRhonda Mon 26-Oct-15 08:33:26

Red / orange lentils are the only ones that break down in cooking so add those dry, once you've added stock or whatever liquid you're using and they will break down in about 20 minutes. They are quite cheap to buy dried from the supermarket. Brown and green lentils stay whole but also add bulk. You can buy them dried but they need cooking (separately) first, then added, again with the liquid. You can also buy them ready-cooked in tins but it's more expensive that way.

Another thing I've done is to batch-cook brown lentils and freeze bags of them, then you can add them straight to the pan with the liquid. Caveat: I'm vegetarian, but this should work fine with beef mince or whatever you're using smile

Skippedthelightfandango Mon 26-Oct-15 08:35:41

If you are watching the pennies then it is dried ones every time - it is miles cheaper.

I use brown or green lentils often, and will simmer them first in a pan with water and maybe a clove or two of garlic and a slice of ginger. When they are cooked then I bung them in whatever I am cooking - veggie stew/curry is the very best IMHO.

IAmAPaleontologist Mon 26-Oct-15 08:37:32

For mince based dishes I use split red lentils as Hannah has pictured, they don't need soaking at all, they end up in most of our bolognase and in soups/broths. For casseroles etc I prefer puy lentils/green lentils in tins, they are lovely in something like a sausage stew. However, lentils in tins negate some of the cost saving exercise really, for cost cutting youa re best off using dried lentils but then they would need all the proper soaking and cooking and I can't be arsed. Split red lentils though are cheap and easy, as Hannah said you jsut chuck them in.

VocationalGoat Mon 26-Oct-15 08:38:03

Red ones cook more quickly and look nicer but the green are tastier. Red ones are nice in a stew or in sweeter dishes made with coconut milk. Green ones are nicer with more savoury, meaty dishes.
I tend to place chicken thighs in a glass casserole dish, add stock, onions, chopped celery, diced carrots, red lentils or green, some water, drizzle of olive oil, a pat of butter and let all cook in the oven.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Mon 26-Oct-15 08:47:39

Red dried ones here. Just sprinkle a few tablespoons onto the mince mixture after its browned. I have only fairly recently started to do this, mainly to eat more healthily, and my Dh and teens haven't noticed.

iwantgin Mon 26-Oct-15 08:50:36

As above. The red lentils or yellow split peas can go straight in - just need maybe 15 minutes cooking to soften up.

I have started cooking a lot with lentils and beans recently. Not particularly for money saving - although they are soo cheap, but for health benefits. I don't like the thought of meat every day.

Last night's dinner was a curry made with red lentils and yellow split peas, plus carrot, potato and onion and chilli peppers. It was really tasty and filling - and no probably cost less than a £1 to make.

Tip - buy your lentils/pulses and rice from the 'ethnic foods' aisle of the supermarket. I make a trip to a particular branch of Sainsburys often as it is in a more diverse area, hence has a better stocked section. I can get a large bag of brown basmati for about £4 iirc, much cheaper than in the regular rice section. Also the spices come in large bags and are significantly better value. Just get some pots to store them in so you don't end up with a load of part bags in the cupboard.

Burgers made with lentils and beans are fantastic too.

It all takes a bit more prep time - but for the money saving and health benefits it is worth it.

SuburbanRhonda Mon 26-Oct-15 09:33:27


Brown and green lentils don't need soaking. As I posted upthread, batch cooking a whole bag of lentils, then freezing small portions of them works for me, as you can then add the cooked, frozen lentils straight to the pan, just as you would do with tinned lentils.

Yellow split peas do need pre-cooking, however.

The only ones that don't are red lentils.

SuburbanRhonda Mon 26-Oct-15 09:35:47

iwant, even better if you have an Asian food shop nearby. Everything is so much cheaper there than in the supermarket.

WaxyBean Thu 29-Oct-15 03:07:26

Dried green lentils added after browning the meat and just before adding liquid/tinned toms. I then leave in the slow cooker all day. The lentils absorb any excess moisture which normally happens in a slow cooker - win, win!

ScrambledEggAndToast Tue 24-Nov-15 20:11:34


MountainDweller Thu 26-Nov-15 01:47:43

I too add dried green lentils straight into the dish if it will be cooking for a while. When I make mince, I add a handful of dried red and a handful of dried green with the tomatoes, then simmer for an hour and a half, adding water if needed. The red ones will collapse and thicken the sauce, the green ones will stay whole and add texture. I started doing it when we were on a tight budget, but now we have a bit more money I still do it as we like it!

Camembertie Thu 03-Dec-15 12:26:15

I made a steamed veggie pudding last night with tomatoes, lentils and olives in that probably didn't cost £1 and was divine. Normally though, do as others have said and put them in with the liquid in stews/curries etc to thicken up - I prefer using red ones for is as they disintergrate which works better with the kids and add a sweetness (Nigella makes a fast mince dish where she uses orange lentils rather than carrots as cook quicker and add similar sweetness)

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