Updated 8th December 2020
The lentil plant (Lens Culinaris) originates from Asia and North Africa and is one of our oldest sources of food. A cousin to the pea and a rich provider of protein and carbohydrates the lentil is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron and B vitamins making it an important diet staple the world over and an ideal companion to Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil.
Lentils can be bought, cooked and ready to eat, in a can or pouch, and are ideal for adding bulk to salads and sides. Most commonly, lentils are bought dried and ideally will be firm, clean and unshrivelled. The type of lentil you choose will depend on intended usage:
Green and brown: Ideal for warm salads, casseroles and stuffing as they tend to retain their shape after cooking.
Puy lentils: These grey-green lentils, grown in the French region of Le Puy, are often more expensive than other common cooking varieties and are thought to be superior in texture (which they retain after cooking) and taste. This makes them the perfect accompaniment to more expensive ingredients such as fish and game, as well as sausages.
Red split lentils: When cooked these lentils form a rich purée and therefore are superb for thickening dishes such as soups and casseroles. They are also often cooked with spices to make the Indian dish dhal.
Yellow lentils: Also known as yellow split peas.Being quite similar to red split lentils, the yellow variety are used in a similar way and are great for adding colour to winter dishes. They are also traditionally stewed to a purée, typically in ham stock, in the north-east of England in a dish called pease pudding.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil With Pasta & Lentils
Here is a warm, homey Neapolitan bowl for cooking with extra virgin olive oil. By cooking the vegetables together with the pasta rather than in a separate pot of salt water the pasta starch is not lost but instead released into the cooking liquid to create a rich, creamy sauce.
- 2 tablespoons Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 5 cups water
- 8 ounces short tubular pasta (such as ziti, trenne or rigatoni)
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Grated Parmesan, for serving
- In a medium saucepan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot, and cook, stirring often until soft but not brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper, and add the lentils, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar, until the lentils are tender, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Bring the lentils to a boil and add the pasta and milk. Cook, uncovered, stirring often so that the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom, until the pasta is al dente and the liquid has reduced to a creamy, ragù-like sauce, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
- Divide the pasta among serving bowls and garnish with the parsley, Parmesan and more Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil. Whoila you have pasta with lentils which is not only tasty but a healthy snack.