By Vicky McDonald

We love lentils! And it's a shame they don't get more love. After all, they're cheap, full of healthy fiber, high in protein, and make meatless meals a whole a lot 'meatier' in texture. They're also easy to cook with -- if you're in any way intimidated by lentils read our ultimate guide to cooking lentils.

Here are some top-rated recipes and easy ideas to help you appreciate and enjoy those humble lentils.

Add Them to Stews and Curries

Red Lentil Curry

Lentils make a cheap and healthy alternative to meat in stews and curries. This popular vegetarian curry has been made and loved by over 1,000 of our home cooks. Aboyd raves, "Loved it. Healthy, lots of flavor, easy, and cheap to boot."

Photo by Lea Eats

Red Split Lentils (Masoor Dal)

This traditional Indian curry with red lentils and veggies is full of flavor and really filling thanks to those lentils.

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Add Them to Rice

Green Lentils and Rice Assyrian Style

This hearty rice dish is almost good enough to eat on its own. Shannon Berkbuegler raves, "Delicious and simple. I thought I'd eat one small side helping. Ended up filling up and eating two big bowls. Husband loved it, and I'm looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow."

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions (Mujadarrah)

This easy recipe with onion and yogurt might just change your mind about lentils like it did with Alice V. Williams, "I had only eaten lentils once before and didn't like them. So, I tried this recipe to use up the lentils and this was great! Even my picky 18-month-old ate this dish. Another plus is that it is very simple to make."

Photo by ashleyenfrance

Red Lentil Dal with Yogurt Raita

Red lentils simmer with tons of vegetables and spices in this quick dal brightened with a splash of lime juice and cilantro and served alongside a minty yogurt raita. Enjoy over brown rice. "This is delicious," says Buckwheat Queen. "I would suggest doubling the raita recipe."

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Make Salads More Substantial

French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

To make this salad even easier you can use Trader Joe's Steamed French Lentils, and save yourself some time. Eddie Edward says, "I loved this recipe. I made it as written and my husband ate all the leftovers while I was at work the next day! I will definitely be making this again. Thanks for a new side dish!"

Photo by N B Angel

Cranberry Lentil and Quinoa Salad

For this recipe some home cooks used canned lentils to cut down on prep time. Buckwheat Queen raves, "A very nice salad that tasted better the longer I left it to sit in the fridge. It even pleased the pickiest eater in my family. You will find so many different flavors and textures in this salad -- it really is a new discovery with every bite."

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Lentil Salad with a Persian Twist

Serve with some bread, and you've got yourself a healthy and tasty work lunch. krimille says, "This is delicious! I have made it several times. It's so light and fresh tasting, yet filling because of the lentils. Reminds me of fattoush salad, which is probably why it's so good with toasted pita."

Photo by LilSnoo

Minty Orzo Lentil and Feta Salad

This tasty combination of salty feta, olives, red wine vinegar, and fresh mint is the perfect mix to complement lentils and orzo pasta. CJ McD says, "This is not just an excellent salad, it's a complete meal if you wish it to be. This is an excellent recipe and is easily adapted to add additional ingredients as summer vegetables become prolific. Especially grilled vegetables. It is delicious as it is, but toss a few cherry tomatoes on top for some extra color just before serving."

Make Soups Extra Nourishing

Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup

This recipe is a great way to use up leftover ham, but it's so good it might become a regular at your house. Colleen says, "Mmmmm, this soup is so simple and satisfying. I originally tried this recipe to get rid of left-over ham, but now I am making it all the time! It is so healthy, extremely inexpensive to make, and the leftovers are very good."

Photo by TTV78

Greek Lentil Soup (Fakes)

We bet you've never had lentil soup that tasted this good. Vinegar is the secret special ingredient. RoseRover "Lovely! This is a great combination of flavors and the vinegar accents ties all of the flavors together wonderfully. Very easy to make."

Lentil, Chicken Sausage, and Sweet Potato Soup

"Flavorful, filling and nutritious, this lentil, sausage, and sweet potato soup does it all," says Zest to Impress. "Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with five-grain baguette."

Photo by Zest to Impress