French Green Lentils (Lens esculenta) are a hard-to-find Lentil that are a beautiful deep fall green. These lentils contain a seed coat and are 1/2 cm. wide with a mild, earthly flavor. The French Green Lentils texture is a bit firmer than most other lentils and hold their shape well when cooked. This tiny lens shaped pulse has traditionally been used as a meat substitute (a pulse is the dried seed of any legume, such as beans and peas). Lentils are the seed of a small shrub and are dried after harvesting. Lentils have been eaten for over 8000 years and originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River. The are a staple food for many South Asian cultures. The Latin word for Lentil, Lens, was used in the 17th century to describe eye glasses because of the similarity in shape.
The quick cooking and nutritious nature of lentils make them an obvious choice for winter soups. They are also good cooked and chilled for salads or mixed with bread crumbs to stuff vegetables. Blend lentils with middle eastern couscous and use as a bed for seafood or poultry.
Lentils do not require soaking. Simmer 1 cup lentils with 4 cups water for 20 to 25 minutes, drain. Skim the water while cooking. One cup dry yields 2 cups cooked.