Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lentils, Part 2: It’s All About the Sprouts

Yes, I’m still stuck on lentils, and now it’s all about the sprouts.  I’m not sure how I managed to miss the sprouting phase of my development – I recall playing around with sprouts, but was never completely won over by the idea.  

Of course, sporadically I’ll pick up a carton or a handful of alfalfa or radish sprouts and enjoy them in sandwiches or scattered in salads and move on.   Naturally, bean sprouts are pretty essential in Asian dishes, but they tend to simply meet the need and seem starchy and wood-like.

Perhaps it's because I’m so impressed with French le puy lentils that I decided to sprout a few out of curiosity.  I was warned, but failed to heed the advice of beginning with a small quantity.  I started with 1 cup of lentils and within 3 day they had mushroomed into a huge bowlful.  I was happily sharing my magnificent crop with friends! Turns out, they are so enticingly flavorful, crunchy, and satisfying, that I began looking for new ways to incorporate them in my diet.

I’ll repeat again that sprouts are powerful packages of nutrition.  In fact, they are a seed and not a bean, that contains an amazing amount of dietary fiber, vitamin C and B’s, and minerals.  Further, they are high in phosphorous, rich in calcium, potassium, zinc and iron.  Since lentils are over 25% protein, they are often mixed with grains, such as rice, which results in a complete protein dish. 

It may be obvious how to sprout, but since I didn’t have a clue, here’s a handy guide:

1.  Rinse and pick through the lentils, removing any stones or chaff, and make certain they are whole, since splits will not sprout.  Place about ¾ cup in a medium bowl and cover with cool water.  Let soak 8-12 hours, or overnight.  They will quadruple in bulk, so consider what might be used within 7-10 days.

2.  Drain and rinse well to remove acids and toxins and place them in a jar or in a strainer over a bowl.  Cover with light towel to allow for circulation, and store in a cool semi-lit area, such as a cabinet or pantry.  Rinse and drain 2-3 times per day for 3 days or until sprouts form ½” tails or longer. 

3.  Place in indirect sunlight for several hours to allow chlorophyll to form and tails turn green. 



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