Beluga Lentils: The Caviar of Legumes

Beyond their resemblance to beluga caviar, these petite lentils are prized for their hearty flavor and pillowy yet firm texture.

History of Beluga Lentils 

Lentils are one of the oldest domesticated crops and have been a staple in the human diet since prehistoric times. Hailing from the Middle East, beluga lentils are native to the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates valleys. In Canada and America, they’re grown on plains in cool and dry climates.

Beluga lentils are not as common compared to their French, green, yellow, and red counterparts. But as more people are discovering this humble legume’s culinary potential, it’s steadily rising in popularity among both home cooks and professional chefs. 

Image Credit: Søren Brath from Pixabay 

Flavor and Appearance of Beluga Lentils

Also known as black lentils, beluga lentils get their name for their uncanny likeness to beluga caviar – they are small and round with an inky black hue. In terms of taste, beluga lentils are markedly similar to black beans. They’re pleasantly starchy with a rich, earthy flavor.

How to Cook Beluga Lentils 

Beluga lentils are prized not just for their caviar-like appearance but for their toothsome texture when cooked. Unlike other lentils, which tend to become soft throughout, beluga lentils turn tender and pillowy while still maintaining a nice al dente bite

To prepare beluga lentils, combine a cup of lentils with two cups of water. You can choose to season before or after cooking. Boil the lentils for about 20-30 minutes, taking them off the heat once they’ve softened but are slightly firm in the center.

Uses of Beluga Lentils 

Beluga lentils are a great way to add texture, heartiness, and visual interest to any dish. You can sprinkle them over salad, add to soup, or use as a base for a grain bowl. Because of their versatile flavor, you can successfully incorporate beluga lentils in almost any cuisine.

If you want to get creative, you can toss cooked lentils in your choice of acid, herbs, and spices to make marinated lentils. Serve them scattered into a fresh salad or on their own as a side dish. It’ll add a welcome pop of brightness and textural contrast to any meal. Plus, they’re just lovely to look at.

Feature Image: ivabalk from Pixabay 

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