Lentils (Lens Culinaris) are a kind of legume, from Fabaceae family. Lentil is an annual plant, cultivated for its seeds, whose color can widely range: from green to yellow, orange, brown and black.
Lentils seem to have been known since Neolithic times, being one of the first domesticated crops. They are also mentioned in the Bible. Firstly known in the Near East, they have then spread all around the world, also thanks to their relative tolerance to draught.
Here in Italy the main producers are in Castelluccio di Norcia, Altamura and Fucino. Worldwide, the main producer is India, but the largest export producer is Canada.
In cooking, Lentils are very appreciated. They need to be cooked for a cooking time of 10 to 40 minutes, depending on the variety. You can use them to make soups or salads or even with pasta. Here in Italy they are a traditional dish on New Year’s Eve: we use to make lentil soup, with stuffed ham hock or cotechino, symbolizing abundance.
Fun fact: Lentils are very rich in proteins, fiber and minerals like iron and magnesium, and in vitamin B.