Spanish Pardina Lentils(Lens esculenta) have been eaten for over 8000 years. Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River. They 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. This is because of the similarity in shape between the legume and an eyeglass lens. Lentils are the seed of a small shrub.
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 12 minutes for salads, 20 to 25 minutes for main dishes. Skim the water while cooking, drain. One cup dry yields 2-1/4 cups cooked.