At Billabong Retreat we love cooking with red lentils as they offer many health benefits due to their nutrient content.
- Rich in Fiber: Red lentils are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Consuming an adequate amount of fiber promotes healthy digestion, aids in maintaining regular bowel movements, and helps prevent constipation.
- Protein Powerhouse: Red lentils are a great plant-based source of protein. They contain essential amino acids, making them a valuable protein option. Protein is essential for muscle growth, repair, and overall body function.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Red lentils have a low glycemic index, meaning they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. This makes them a suitable food choice for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar levels.
- Nutrient Dense: Red lentils are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, folate, potassium, and magnesium. These nutrients play crucial roles in various bodily functions, such as oxygen transport, red blood cell production, nerve function, and maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
- Antioxidant Properties: Red lentils contain antioxidants like flavonoids and phenolic compounds, which help protect the body against free radicals. These antioxidants may have anti-inflammatory properties and play a role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular conditions.
- Digestive Health: The high fiber content in red lentils supports a healthy digestive system and a healthy gut environment.
It’s worth noting that cooking red lentils thoroughly is important to enhance their digestibility and nutrient availability. Incorporating red lentils into your diet can be as simple as adding them to soups, stews, curries, salads, or using them as a base for vegetarian or vegan patties.
Spiced Red Lentil Soup with Coriander Lemon Drizzle
This simple and nourishing soup is based on a traditional Turkish red lentil soup and requires very few ingredients highlighting the mild, sweet flavour of the lentils. As this soup uses water rather than stock it is best made with filtered water, or boil the water for at least 15 minutes first to remove chlorine.
Serve in the traditional way with wedges of fresh lemon or boost it further with this delicious herb drizzle.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin powder
½ teaspoon ground coriander
2 cup red lentils, rinsed well and drained
8 cups filtered water, plus more as needed
Fresh lemon wedges, to serve
Sumac, to serve
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, salt, black pepper and spices and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
- Add lentils and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are cooked and become creamy. Add more water if needed to achieve the desired consistency. Taste and add salt if necessary.
- Meanwhile, use a small food processor to process the fresh coriander, oil and lemon until well combined. Season with a little salt and transfer to a bowl (see note).
- Serve hot, drizzled with the oil and dusted with sumac.
If preparing the coriander drizzle in advance, leave out the lemon and add just before serving or serve with fresh lemon wedges.