I have a deep appreciation for all varieties of lentils, from vibrant reds to hearty greens, but there’s something truly extraordinary about black lentils. These little gems have a special place in my heart and on my plate. They’re in a league of their own.
One of the reasons why black lentils have captured my affection is their unique texture. When cooked to perfection, they become tender yet wonderfully toothsome. Unlike their red or green counterparts, black lentils boast a thicker skin that allows them to hold their shape beautifully. It’s like they were designed to add a touch of elegance to any dish they grace.
But that’s not all—black lentils have another trick up their sleeve. They have an impressive shelf life and can be stored in the fridge for several days without losing their incredible flavor and velvety texture. This makes them a true superhero for meal prepping, whether you’re a vegetarian or an omnivore seeking delicious and hassle-free options.
Black lentils are a culinary treasure that brings a unique earthy flavor to your dishes. These lentils, also known as black beluga lentils due to their resemblance to caviar, have a stunning appearance that adds visual appeal to any meal. Cooked black lentils maintain their shape and offer a slightly firmer texture that contrasts with every bite. Their earthy flavor pairs well with a variety of ingredients, making them a versatile choice for both vegetarian and meat-based dishes.
Fresh Herbs - Thyme and Oregano:
Thyme, with its subtle lemony undertones and earthy aroma, complements the earthiness of black lentils perfectly. Its woody and slightly floral notes add depth. Oregano brings a robust and slightly peppery flavor to the table. Its distinct taste enhances the overall savory profile the dish.
Chicken Stock (or Vegetable Broth):
Choosing the right liquid base for your black lentil dish is important for enhancing its flavors. Chicken stock, with its rich and savory notes, adds depth and complexity to your dish. I love using my homemade stock for this recipe. It infuses the lentils with a delicious umami taste that beautifully complements the earthy flavors. If you are looking for vegetarian options- choose a high-quality vegetable stock.
The Cooking Process:
Sauté the Aromatic Vegetables:
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery to the pot and sauté them until they become fragrant and slightly softened, usually around 5 minutes. This step helps to release their flavors and create a solid foundation for the lentil dish.
Add the Lentils and Liquid:
Once the vegetables have softened, add the rinsed black lentils to the pot. Stir them together with the vegetables, ensuring they are evenly distributed. Pour in the 3 ½ cups of broth, whether chicken or vegetable, to cover the lentils and vegetables. Drop in the bay leaf and the sprigs of thyme.
Once the lentils are cooked, remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. At this stage, you can stir in a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to add a tangy note that complements the earthiness of the black lentils. Give the dish a final taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
How to serve:
Black lentils are incredibly versatile and can be served in a variety of ways. Here are a few serving suggestions for these tasty little gems.
As a Standalone Dish:
Black lentils can be enjoyed as a satisfying and nutritious standalone dish. Garnish with fresh herbs like basil or cilantro. Drizzle a touch of olive oil on top for a glossy finish and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Alongside Side Dishes:
Black lentils make an excellent accompaniment to a variety of side dishes. Consider serving them alongside roasted vegetables such as sweet potatoes. Roasted sweet potatoes provide a naturally sweet and creamy contrast to the earthy flavors of the lentils. You can cut the sweet potatoes into cubes or wedges, season them with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of paprika, then roast them in the oven until tender and caramelized. Serve the lentils and sweet potatoes side by side for a hearty and well-rounded meal.
With Over-Whipped Feta:
For a decadent twist, consider topping your black lentils with over-whipped feta. The creamy and tangy whipped feta pairs beautifully with the earthiness of the black lentils. Finish off with a sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper and chopped fresh herbs.
In Salads or Burrito Bowls:
Black lentils are a fantastic addition to salads or grain bowls, adding a hearty and nutritious element. Combine the cooked black lentils with a variety of fresh vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and leafy greens. Toss the ingredients together with a simple vinaigrette dressing or a zesty lemon-based dressing. To add extra sweetness and texture, consider including diced roasted sweet potatoes or even some dried fruits like cranberries or apricots. Top it off with crumbled feta cheese, toasted nuts, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs for a satisfying and well-balanced meal.
Meal Prep and Storage:
Prepare a Big Batch:
When it comes to meal prepping with black lentils, it’s a good idea to cook a larger batch than you would for a single meal. By cooking a big batch of black lentils in one go, you can save time and ensure you have plenty of servings to use throughout the week. Consider doubling or tripling the recipe, depending on your needs. This way, you’ll have ample portions to create a variety of meals and recipes, from salads to grain bowls, soups, and more.
Refrigerate or Freeze:
Black lentils can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days, allowing you to enjoy them throughout the week. If you plan to consume them within this timeframe, refrigeration is the way to go. Simply place the portioned lentils in the refrigerator, making sure they are stored in an airtight container to retain their quality.
If you’re meal-prepping for a longer period or have excess portions that won’t be consumed within a few days, freezing is an excellent option. Freezing the cooked lentils helps extend their shelf life for up to 3 months while maintaining their taste and texture. Place the portions in freezer-safe containers or resealable freezer bags, ensuring they are well-sealed to prevent freezer burn. Label the containers with the contents and date before placing them in the freezer.
I can usually find a bag of black lentils at Whole Foods- but not all grocery stores carry them. Check the aisle with the beans, or the bulk foods sections.
Lentils for supper health, and black lentils are no exception.
Here is a full blog post about their nutrition facts and health benefits.
One serving of black lentils made from ¼ cup of dry seeds (½ cup of cooked) contains 12 grams of protein. They are packed with fiber at 9 grams per serving and 23 grand of carbs. You get all that for just 180 calories and .5) . Black lentils also deliver potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc and folate. Black lentils contain antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, which give them their dark color. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals.
Numerous studies have shown that the consistent consumption of lentils is associated with improved health outcomes and a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.
No, you do not need to soak black lentils before cooking.
Yes. Black lentils are sometimes called beluga lentils because of their resemblance to beluga caviar.
One cup of dry lentils will turn out to be approximately 2 ½ cups of cooked lentils.
More lentil recipes:
You might not know this about me yet but I am obsessed with lentils! Red, green, french green lentils, or brown lentils- I have lots of lentil recipes for you to check out. For main dishes try Red Lentil Koftas, Lentil Salad with Feta and Pomegranate (Lettuce Wrap), or Lentil Stuffed Pepeprs. While I love my classic lentil soup recipe with a leftover ham bone, there are so many more possibles like: Curry Red Lentils with Sweet Potaes and Spinach, Mushroom and lentil Soup, Smoky Slow Cooker Stew, and Lentil Quinoa Jalapeno and Preserved Lemon Soup. French lentils braised in red wine and caramelized onions is more of my absolute favorites! I have not even started in on the cold salads possibilities.
If you’ve tried this Black Lentils recipe or any other recipe on BalancingBowls, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to see more tasty meals and anything else I’m up to.
Black Lentils Recipe
- 1 bag or 2 cups of black lentils
- 1 onion
- 4 Carrot
- 4 celery
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 6 springs oregano
- Bay leaf
- 3 ½ cups broth
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery to the pot and sauté them until they become fragrant and slightly softened, usually around 5 minutes.
- Once the vegetables have softened, add the rinsed black lentils to the pot. Stir them together with the vegetables, ensuring they are evenly distributed. Pour in the 3 ½ cups of broth, whether chicken or vegetable, to cover the lentils and vegetables. Drop in the bay leaf and the sprigs of thyme.
- Bring the pot to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the lentils to cook for approximately 20-30 minutes or until they reach the desired level of tenderness.
- Remove the pot from heat. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
- Stir in a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar