The other week, I was at the San Mateo farmer’s market, and there was a vendor selling all sorts of sprouted beans and lentils. I’ve never sprouted lentils before, but I do love me some red lentils – in chili, soups, and stews, and I wanted to make a salad out of some.
You can’t eat lentils raw, but you can eat them raw if they have been sprouted. They become more readily digestible, phytic acid content is reduced (phytic acid binds to nutrients and inhibits their absorption). and certain vitamins (such as vitamins B and C) become more bioavailable. These sprouted lentils are great sources of protein, and if eaten raw as in a salad, are great for those following a raw diet (these are cooked, however). Whenever people ask me about weight management, I also stress the fiber content of foods. Not only does fiber help get things going (ahem), fiber also contributes to the feeling of satiety (fullness), which is great for weight control!
To sprout these lentils, I soaked them in water overnight. In the morning, I drained them, rinsed them, and put them in a couple large mason jars, drained. I put cheesecloth over the jars, and placed the jars upside-down over a cooling rack placed on top of a rimmed baking sheet. I’d rinse out the lentils twice a day, and did the same draining process each time for the next day and a half. By the second day, I saw that there were lots of little tails in my lentils, which is what you want! It’s easier to sprout more hearty legumes and green lentils, because the tails aren’t so delicate and fall off. Every time I’d rinse these, I’d find little tails in the water I washed away. I decided not to make a salad out of this and instead made a red lentil dal. At least the nutrition content and bioavailability of nutrients was improved with a day and a half of sprouting!
*Note: Soaking and sprouting 1 cup of lentils yielded 2 1/2 cups of sprouted red lentils, which is what I call for in this recipe.*
This dish took only 20 minutes to cook. Sprouting lentils makes their cook time decrease a lot, which was great. This dal was perfect over brown rice, but next time I’ll change it up and serve them with naan bread. Delicious!