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Lentil lamentations

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Lentil lamentations

greygarious | | Mar 23, 2009 04:49 PM

The fickle legume first broke my heart many years ago, after I wandered into an Indian market because a friend had moved from NH to Alaska and I wanted to send her some of the yellow dalthat she missed. At that time I'd never had Indian food. The red lentils called out to me - I was enraptured by their beauty....you know the rest: into the pot for what I thought would be gorgeous soup, and they turned into a pumpkin - well, no, but that would have been better than their mutation into body-doubles for the plebeian yellow split pea.

So I was wary of the allure of the colorful mixed lentils on a website which sold dried legumes. The description notes that the color fades with prolonged cooking. But I thought, if I simmer tham gently until they are just tender.... Their arrival today was perfectly timed, since I wanted to make soup and had a container of beef stock near its use-by date. I seared some diced (raw) London broil, adding onions, garlic, bay leaf, celery, and the broth. After it simmered for 90 minutes, I added carrot and the mix of lentils. Alas, the orange ones (supposedly Petite Crimson but possibly Red Chief) turned beige within 2 minutes. The soup tastes good, but the visual appeal it limited to the various sizes of the lentils; the colors are 3 shades of brown and the little black beluga variety.

Are there any colorful varieties of lentil or bean that keep their color/pattern when cooked, or any way to cook them so as to preserve their appearance? I got 3# of the mixed lentils so I can experiment a little. I also bought the absolutely breathtaking Christmas Lima Bean, creamy with maroon marbling. My crest will fall to the ground if these beauties turn a sullen, solid color when cooked!

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