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Lentils and beans, members of the legume family, are both staples in an Ornish Spectrum kitchen. These little colorful gems are similar to their sibling beans, packed with heart-healthy, plant-based protein and loaded with fiber. Like beans, lentils and split peas also come in different colors displaying their unique phytochemical profiles. There aren’t the vast variety of types as in beans, but the rustic spectrum of green, brown, red, yellow, and black offer a multitude of choices, flavor and textures.

Lentils are faster and easier to cook than beans since they don’t require any soaking.

Lentils are a perfect addition to meals and snacks. They are wonderful in soup, chili, salads, sandwiches and wraps, veggie burgers, vegan loafs, curry, with rice and other whole grains. One outstanding characteristic of lentils is that they are faster and easier to cook than beans since they don’t require any soaking. So they are great for a quick and heart-healthy meal!

Cooking with Heart-Healthy Lentils

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Rinse lentils under cool water in a colander. Remove any debris.
  2. Combine 2:1 ratio of water to lentils in a saucepan. Add seasoning at this time but do not add salt or acidic ingredients until lentils are cooked.
  3. Cook on medium-high heat until lentils come to a rapid simmer; then reduce heat to low for a mild simmer until lentils are tender, but not mushy. See below for cooking times depending on the colors of lentils.

Cooking Tips:

  • Lentils should be just barely covered with water as they cook; add water as needed, until cooked.
  • Add the salt or acidic ingredients when lentils are done cooking but still warm (this applies for beans, too).
  • Lentils are good for up to a week after cooked.
  • Optional to cook lentils in a veggie stock or broth, depending on the need of the recipe.

Cooking Times:

  • Red & Yellow Lentils: 15-25 minutes (great for soups)
  • Brown & Green Lentils: 30-45 minutes  (hearty, retains shape best; good to add to salads or sides)
  • Puy Green (French) Lentils: 35-45 minutes (darker, smaller and more expensive than regular green lentils)
  • Black or Beluga Lentils: 20-25 minutes  (named after beluga caviar; great to add to salad and side dishes)
  • Split Peas (green and yellow): 45-60 minutes

What is your favorite lentil or split pea recipe?

Contributed by

Carra Richling
Registered Dietitian

Eat well, be well!

Better Health Begins With You...

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