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Elizabeth Castoria is the author of How to Be Vegan and the former editorial director of VegNews, where she shared the fun, ease, and variety of the vegan lifestyle with readers around the globe. She is now a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter at @ecastoria.
7 Reasons Why Lentils are the New Cauliflower
By Elizabeth Castoria
One of the things that’s the most fun about going vegan is getting to mix up your menu routine. There are a few staple ingredients that can totally transform your plant-based eating experience, and figuring out how you like them best will make dinnertime downright dreamy. Last year, cauliflower was everywhere. From pizza crusts to steaks to mac & cheese, cauliflower suddenly started appearing all over the blogosphere in myriad mesmerizing incarnations. Why the sudden burst of cauliflower love? The answer has two parts: one, it was inevitable that people would hunger for a new “it” vegetable to topple the reign of kale, and two, cauliflower is super extra especially versatile. Whether you blend it into a luxuriant soup or slather it in buffalo sauce as though it were wings, there really aren’t limits to the number of ways cauliflower can spruce up your supper.
So, if last year was the year of cauliflower, forward-thinking plant-eaters will wonder: what’s next? What veggie could possibly join the ranks of kale and cauli as the must-buy vegan staple? For your consideration, I submit that the answer lies in lentils! Here are nine reasons why you’ll be seeing them everywhere soon!
1. Lentils are super good for you.
Protein? Fiber? Lentils have it all! Just one cup offers 18 grams of protein and 63 percent of your daily recommended fiber. Oh, and there’s a healthy dose of iron in there, too. Lentils are basically the perfect food.
Red, green, brown, black, oh my! Depending on what texture you’re looking for, there’s a lentil to suit your needs. (Not unlike the cheddar and purple varieties of cauliflower, just saying!)
3. They make amazing burgers.
Try the Savory Lentil-Mushroom Burgers from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, the Red Lentil Cauliflower Burger with Chipotle Habanero Mayo, Onion Rings, and Roasted Peppers from Vegan Richa, or go big with the Stuffed Thanksgiving Burger from The PPK.
4. You can thicken soups and sauces with them.
Want a thick, rich soup without using the entirety of your cashew supply? Lentils to the rescue! Red lentils work particularly well in tomato-based soups and add heartiness without overwhelming the other flavors. Try the Double Red Soup from How to Be Vegan to see for yourself!
5. They’re super cheap.
Dried lentils cost way, way less than a dime a dozen. Find them in the bulk section of your local grocery store to save even more, then keep them in glass jars.
6. They’re hard to mess up.
You have to really try to do the wrong thing with lentils. I was recently making a batch to add to a salad, and when I checked on them, it became clear that I’d overcooked them. So what’s a gal to do, toss them out and start over? I did start over to make another batch for the salad, but I also kept the overcooked lentils to turn into soup. I’m basically John Legend—even when I lose, I’m winning.
7. They bulk up salads like champs.
Speaking of salads, a cup of cooked lentils will bulk up the nutrition on your daily staple. Toss with your favorite greens, dressing, and half an avocado, and you have lunch!