This roundup of 21 high protein lentil recipes features a star of the plant-based space: the trusty lentil! Versatile, cheap, easy to use and SO delicious, you’ll love featuring it in so many recipes. From tacos to soups to salads and more, read on to learn how much protein is in lentils and to see my favorite high protein vegan recipes, with lentils!
What are lentils?
Let’s get right to it: lentils are the star of the show today! For many great reasons. Lentils are an edible legume (like a bean) that grown in a pod shaped like a lens (hence the derivative of the name). They do not require soaking before cooking and are typically ready in under an hour.
What are lentil’s protein level?
Lentils are extremely high vitamins and fiber and contain a whopping 18 grams of protein per cup.
There are many varieties of lentils that are common today (grouped by similarity):
- Red and yellow lentils: Commonly used in Indian dhals, these lentils cook up the quickest and are brightly colored.
- Brown and green lentils: The most common kinds of lentils, these are also the most versatile and hold their shape well.
- Puy lentils: Grown in volcanic soil in a specific region of France, these lentils are bluish-green and have a strong flavor.
- Beluga: Small black lentils that resemble caviar, these have an earthy flavor.
I typically buy brown or green lentils as they’re the most convenient, but below we’re featuring all kinds. High protein vegan meals can sometimes be difficult to come by, but not with the help of lentils.
How To Cook Lentils
The cook time for each lentil will depend on the variety you’re using. Here are some quick reference tips:
- Red and yellow lentils: Since these lentils are split into smaller pieces, they cook up very quickly. If adding to a dish like a stew, throw them in the pot when there is 15 minute left in cooking time. If cooking them separately, use a 1.5 : 1 ratio of water to lentils, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Brown and green lentils: If adding to a soup, place in pot when there are 40 minutes left of cooking time. If cooking separately, use a water to lentil ratio of 3:1 for these legumes. They will need longer to cook, usually around 40 minutes. Bring to a boil and simmer until this time is up.
- Puy lentils: Bring 2 1/4 cups water to boil and add 1 cup of lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Beluga lentils: Bring 2 1/4 cups water to boil and add 1 cup of lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
How to Meal Prep with Lentils
Lentils are great for meal prep because they can easily blend into SO many meals. This post details a few of my favorite ways to include them in salads, pastas, and more. To meal prep with lentils, sometimes all you need to do is cook up a plain batch in the beginning of the week and add them to any place you’d like more protein. Even this vegan gravy recipe is a good use of nontraditional lentil enjoyment!
How to Make a High Protein Meal with Lentils
Lentils are an easy substitute for beans or ground meat in many recipes. So, start there when brainstorming how to best use them! For example, substituting lentils for meat in a burger recipe would be a very simple swap that would likely save you money and time.
If you’re not sure if you enjoy lentils, I recommend adding them to a dish you’re already a fan of first, just to see. For example, if you’re going to make a salad to bring for lunch, try adding a spoon of lentils on top for texture + interest! You may like them more than you realize, and they really pack a punch of protein.