Ingredient of the week: Sprout-yer-own lentils!

by DaniGirl on November 5, 2014 · 0 comments

in Eating and thinking and thinking about eating

Did you know that if you take the regular old lentils that you find in the grocery store (the dried ones in the bag, not the canned ones) and a mason jar, you can grow them on the kitchen counter into crunchy, earthy deliciously green and crazy-good-for-you sprouts in just a couple of days? Lentils are already really good for you, but when you sprout them, I’ve read that the nutritional value more or less doubles. And honestly, the sprouted lentils taste about 1000 times better than regular old lentils.

Like just about all good things in my kitchen, this was inspired by (surprise!) Chef Michael Smith. I found this video on his website:

(The bit about sprouting lentils starts around the 6:45 mark, give or take 10 seconds.) Then, because I will always seek out a long and wordy tutorial over a video, I clicked around until I found these instructions for sprouting lentils linked from his website.

I loved this because it was a fun experiment, a family-friendly activity and an agriculture lesson all rolled up into one. And also? YUMMY! We started with a bag of organic green lentils, a bit of mesh (cheesecloth would work, but mesh or screen lets the air through better) and a big mason jar with a two-piece snap lid.

Sprouting lentils (1 of 4)

You take about a cup of lentils, maybe a little less (my one litre mason jar almost overflowed by day four of sprouting) and put them in the jar. Put the mesh across the top of the jar and screw the band part of the lid over it without the round centre piece. Fill the jar with cold, clean water and shake it around to rinse the lentils. Pour out that water (see where the screen and open lid comes in handy?) and then fill it back up again.

Sprouting lentils (2 of 4)

Then, walk away. Leave it overnight to soak. The next morning, drain thoroughly through the mesh and rinse the lentils under cold running water. This time, drain the lentils well and leave them again. Continue rinsing them twice a day and being careful to leave them wet but not sitting in water. You’ll see them start to sprout within a day or three. This is mine on day three:

Sprouting lentils (3 of 4)

After four days, they had grown sprouted and increased in size so much that they were pushing against the top of the jar lid. or else I might have let them go a wee bit longer.

Sprouting lentils (4 of 4)

I rinsed one last time, unscrewed the cap and replaced the mesh with the snap centre of the lid and put them in the fridge. Well, first I snacked my way through about a quarter of the jar. I sampled a few, and the earthy, crunchy and ever so mildly sweet green flavour totally took me by surprise. I do not love lentils, although I eat them because i know they’re nutritional powerhouses, but I DO love sprouted lentils. WOW!

The next day, I had this for lunch at work: sprouted lentils, spinach, parmesan and cherry tomato salad with a honey-sesame-balsamic vinagrette.

There is one caveat I’ve seen on articles about sprouting things yourself. If your jar or your lentils or your hands are not scrupulously clean, there is a risk of E coli developing. That’s why the twice-daily rinsing and not letting the sprouts sit in water is so important. Safety first!

So, to recap: easy, good for you, excellent family activity, great teaching point, yummy. It’s gardening for underachievers with micro-sized attention spans like me. Seriously, what’s not to love? Imagine having a countertop source of fresh, home-grown green veggies all winter long, and all you need is a jar and a bag of dried lentils! Now that we’ve mastered the lentil sprout, there are no shortage of beans and seeds I’d like to try sprouting: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, alfalfa, barley, oats, almonds…

Have you tried sprouting? What were your experiences? Are you interested in hearing how we do with other sprouts? And if you have any favourite sprout recipes to share, I’d love to hear them!

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