Small black beluga lentils, so called because of their resemblance to caviar, hold their shape well, making them perfect for salads. If you can’t find beluga lentils, use French Puy lentils, which have similar properties. With lentils, young spinach, spring peas, and herby dressing, this salad welcomes spring.
Symbiotic bacteria called Rhizobium invade the roots of lentils and legumes such as peas and beans, allowing them to “fix,” or use, nitrogen. This also improves the quality of the soil they grow in. When grown as part of a crop rotation system, they make the soil suitable to grow other plants, including grains, that require nitrogen.
Packaged lentils may contain small stones or other debris which, for safety, should be removed. To pick over lentils, take small amounts of lentils and spread them on a flat surface such as a cutting board. Using a bench scraper or palette knife, or simply your hands, review the contents and move from one end of the board to the other, removing any debris you find on the way.
Fun fact: The word lentil is derived from the word for lens. You might want to get a pair to complete this task!
What to look for: When choosing lentils, look for organic lentils to avoid glyphosate residues that can be found in conventionally grown varieties.