Saturday, June 20, 2009

June's Grain of the Month!



It's here! June's Grain of the Month! OK, OK, I KNOW lentils are not a grain, they are a legume, but let's face it: Half of you out there saying, "Lentils are not a grain; they are a legume" are saying it simply because you like saying the word "legume" and I totally agree that it IS a fun word to say. However...

June is the month of passion and exploration: vegetables are bursting forth in gardens following vines courtesy of nature's GPS, hand-in-hand, couples all over are leaping off the rim of the dating into the bowl of marriage, and in some supermarket somewhere, a timid woman reaches for her usual bag of peanuts and then eyes the cashews and thinks "why not?" Such is the power June has upon us all. So, my friends, we too extend our vines and reach for the lentils this month.

Ah lentils! Little lens-shaped miracles (only two seeds in each pod as they grow!) They are a delight to all the senses--the sight of all those small, perfect planets in the bag, the sound of the hard, glistening shells poured into a bowl, the feel of them as they dance through the fingers, the fragrance that wafts through the house as they cook, the taste as they hit the tongue.

And this info from our friends at Wikipedia: "Lentils are mentioned many times in the Old Testament, the first time recounting the incident in which Jacob purchases the birthright from Easu with stewed lentils (Genesis 25:34). In Jewish mourning tradition, they are considered as food for mourners,together with boiled eggs. The reason is that their round shape symbolizes the life cycle from birth to death."

Now I know my readers are a highly educated group and many of you are out there saying, "OK, Betty, you've dazzled us with this information, but before we get tattoos of lentils on our pectorials and make the commitment to BE Lentil People, we are going to need to see the fine print: we need the nutritional information." Ah, how discriminating! How prudent! I would expect nothing less from you, my faithful ones.

Lentils are loaded with iron and fiber. Need more? OK. They are packed with protein, having the third highest level of protein of any plant-based food. How about some folate and magnesium? It's in there! But wait--there's more! You'll also receive phosphorus, copper, thiamine AND potassium! All in a handy carrying case!!! These babies are powerhouses of nutrition and all at about 230 calories per cup. They fill you up, Buttercup! Yow!!!! Follow me! Pledge your allegiance to the lentil! Get some NOW!!!

Wait! I know I've got you all excited about going out and getting some lentils. Your hand is on the doorknob, your keys are in your hand, but before you run out of your house (BTW--are you really going in that outfit?) to go buy lentils please consider this:

Don't just go and willy-nilly buy the same old boring brown lentils. Your Betty Mission is to go out and find Black (Beluga) lentils or Green (Du Puy) lentils. You may have to search around for these, but I promise it will be worth it. Make sure the label for the green lentils has the AOC on the label--this certifies that the lentils truly come from the Auvergne area of France and have been grown in the volcanic soil of that region without fertilizers. It's this soil that gives these beauties their flavor. Do not be fooled by those labeled "French." (Betty is not kidding about this. She would never kid about this.)


Tomorrow we dine!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i am SO looking forward to your recipes! i love love love lentils and so share your passion, but i get stuck in a lentil cooking rut. i shall seek the green lentils next time i go to whole foods. in a pinch, trader joe's has cooked brown lentils in the refrigerated section. they are ok, good for a quick soup or salad, but nothing like the famed green or black lentils!

pg