15 varieties of lentils, characteristics and origin

15 varieties of lentils, characteristics and origin

If you think you have already tried all the varieties of lentils, perhaps you are wrong. There are really many types of lentils, almost infinite, if we consider the world production.

From Indian dhal legumes to small and tasty Norcia lentils, from large and fleshy green lentils to hulled red lentils that flake off in a few minutes of cooking. And it doesn't stop there.

Here are 15 varieties of lentils with the provenance and relative characteristics indicated: the first 7, all of which are landscaped, do not exhaust the heterogeneous production of the Peninsula.


1. Lentils and the village of Norcia

Small, tasty, dark green, are perhaps the best known in the country. The IGP lentil of Castelluccio di Norcia it was born on the karst floors, in the stupendous scenery of the Sibillini mountains, about 1500 meters high. It is not chemically treated and is produced in limited quantities, which is why it is notoriously more expensive than the others.

From the point of view of nutritional characteristics, it is rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, iron and phosphorus. It has a thin skin, so it does not require soaking and cooks in a short time. On the official website you will find many recipes. 


2. Colfiorito lentils 

Very small and with different shades of color (from light green, to pink, to yellow, to tobacco), Colfiorit lentilsor, a traditional Umbrian product, they are tender and tasty. Like the Norcia lentil, this legume also does not need to be soaked and cooks in about 20 minutes.

They contain carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, fibers, iron and phosphorus and low fat. They are perfect stewed, with a mashed potato as an accompaniment. 


3. Rascino lentils

Presidio slow food lentils from Rascino it is grown in the province of Rieti, on the Abruzzo border, with traditional and organic methods, by a few and selected producers, who have kept the seeds and carried on the story.

This lentil variety has a small and brown seed, with a few reddish streaks here and there. It has a pleasant taste, a high protein content and remains well intact when cooked: it is considered a niche product. 


4. Ustica mignon lentils 

There are a very small and dark brown variety of lentils which grows on this small Sicilian volcanic island.

It is a very important ingredient of local cuisine, a poor food which, par excellence, enriches peasant soups, accompanies vegetables or can be stewed with wild fennel or basil.

It doesn't need soaking and is flavorful and tender. Classic is pasta and lentils, prepared by breaking up spaghetti. 


5. Lentils from Pantelleria

Le lentils from Pantelleria, very small and dark, they are tasty and very digestible. It is advisable to leave them to soak for about half an hour before cooking them to taste for another thirty minutes.


6. Leonforte black lentils

Typical of this Sicilian area, the lentil of Leonforte born in the province of Enna and is rare and delicious.

It has a particular taste and is suitable for the preparation of haute cuisine dishes, to give color and create magic at the table. It has a high protein and iron content. 


7. Giant green lentils from Altamura

From the Puglia of the Murgia to the New Year's tables: this is the classic lentil that accompanies the dinner of the el paeseni. It is recognized for its beautiful green color, in fact, it is harvested just before complete ripeness, and its taste is sweeter and more herbaceous than its smaller sisters.

The richness of iron, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals make it a precious food. It needs to soak for about 3 hours


8. Spanish brown lentils, Pardina variety

This is the lentil known to be the best in Spain, has a rich flavor and a high starch content, which makes it suitable for dishes that need a nice creamy texture.

About twenty minutes of soaking and cooking for just over half an hour will be enough to enjoy delicious dishes of Spanish origin, but not only. 


9. French Puy lentils 

They are very particular, born around the homonymous French town of Le Puy, in the Haute-Loire; small, have a dark green color with streaks tending to blue-black. This lentil remains compact after cooking, giving dishes with a creamy consistency and rich in flavor. They are said to have a slightly peppery taste.


Read also Lentils: how to cook them >>


10. Asian black lentils, mungo or Beluga lentils

Shiny like Beluga caviar, from which they take their name, have a black color and a flattened shape. They are native to Asia, in particular they are consumed in India, called urad dhal.

They have a sweet and aromatic taste, excellent in combination with dishes such as fish and precious as a base for salads. They are rich in fiber and protein, low in fat. They do not require soaking, they cook in about 20 minutes. 


11. Pusha lentils from Ecuador

Introduced thanks to fair trade also in the country, are very tasty lentils and suitable for dishes with an exotic and spicy flavor. They are green-brown in color and are perfect in summer and in vegetarian or vegan diets, to enrich fresh salads.  


12. Yellow Indian lentils 

Their name is mong dhal, are the large peeled yellow Indian lentils. Rich in proteins and minerals, they are excellent both as a soup and as a main course, enriched with turmeric, ginger and cumin, they are also suitable as a base for veg meatballs and lentil porridge.


13. Red Masoor lentils

They are the small coral colored Indian lentils, used above all for the tasty and spicy Indian soups, but not only. Once cooked they take on a yellow color. They cook very quickly, do not require soaking, are easily digested and assimilated and have many beneficial properties, being rich in proteins and good fats, such as Omega 3. 


14. Canadian green lentils

They are large and widespread lentils, especially exported a lot, even in the country. The best come from the Saskatchewan region of western Canada, which boasts a high quality production. They are used mainly as a side dish, being really fleshy, with a soft consistency and delicate taste.


15. Egyptian red lentils

These are very small lentils with a red color coming from North Africa. They contain iron, protein, vegetable fiber and potassium. They do not require soaking and cook quickly. They are excellent both for Koshari, the main Egyptian dish, and served as a puree or as an accompaniment to cous cous. 


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