Puy Lentils are a great ingredient to throw into salads for additional protein. They are exclusively cultivated in the region of Le Puy, Auvergne in central France where the rich volcanic soil gives the lentils their earthy flavor. (Look out for the AOC stamp which certifies that the Puy Lentils in your bag are the real thing.)
Here are 5 great reasons why you should be eating Puy lentils:
1) Puy lentils count as one of your five-a-day
Everyone knows that we should aim to have at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day. But how many of you know that 3 heaped Tablespoons of cooked Puy lentils counts as one portion of vegetables? Unlike some vegetables which can leave you feeling peckish, Puy lentils make a nice base for a salad which keeps you feeling full for longer. But remember that even if you eat more than 3 tablespoons per day, beans and pulses only count for one portion so make sure you include plenty of other vegetables in your Puy lentil salad.
2) Puy lentils are a great source of vegetarian protein
The cells of your body need protein for growth, maintenance and repair. Protein is also vital for the production of antibodies to fight illnesses, and is the main nutrient which keeps your hair shiny, nails strong, and skin glowing. When people think of protein, they usually think of animal protein. However animal protein (especially red meat) is high in saturated fat which can increase your cholesterol levels, and excessive consumption may eventually lead to health issues in the future (ie. heart attack, stroke, narrowed arteries). You don’t have to be a vegetarian to benefit from including a healthy non-animal protein source in your diet at least once a week, such as Puy lentils.
3) Puy lentils have a long shelf-life
It is always good to have some staple foods you can keep in your pantry which can be prepared quickly and easily. Dried Puy lentils have a long shelf-life, often several years (check the label on your packaging). Once opened, they can easily be kept in an air-tight container for upto a year. They add bulk to salads, soups, stews and even pasta sauces. What’s more, they are easy to cook and require no pre-soaking (see Reason 5 below for cooking instructions).
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love the taste of Puy lentils! They have a satisfying bite to them (assuming you don’t over cook them) and bring a nice peppery earthy flavor to salads. Dressings with a slight amount of sweetness work well as a contrast to puy lentils’ peppery flavor, so I love using balsamic vinegar when I make puy lentil salads.
5) Easy to cook
Unlike many other pulses, Puy lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking – great news for the impulsive cook! They can be cooked in large batches and kept in the refrigerator for upto 4 days or even frozen in batches for upto 3 months.
5 simple steps to cook Puy lentils (enough to make the base of a lentil salad of 4-6 servings):
- Rinse 200g of dried Puy lentils to remove any debris.
- Put the lentils into a pot of cold water so that they are covered by about 2-3 inches of water.
- Bring the water up to the boil. As soon as it starts boiling, reduce the heat to a good simmer. You can drop 1tsp of salt and a bay leaf into the water if you want a hint of added flavor, although it is not at all necessary.
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes. The lentils should still have some bite to them.
- Drain. Use immediately, or allow to cool on a platter.
Find Puy Lentil Salad recipes here!