What Are French Lentils?

This stand-out legume is worthy of a spot in your pantry.

If your recipe calls for "French lentils" don't just swap in another easier-to-find lentil variety, like brown or green, and expect the same results. With a distinct flavor and texture, this tasty legume is worth seeking out for a range of dishes.

What is the Taste and Texture of French Lentils?

A variety of green lentils, French lentils are about one-third the size of regular lentils. With a slightly greenish-grey hue, they may appear more akin to gravel than a legume, and boast a peppery flavor. The thing that really makes French lentils stand apart though is their texture. Featuring a thick skin, they hold their shape exceptionally well, staying whole and firm when many other lentils tend to get soft and mushy. With this heartier texture comes a longer cooking time, often about 40 minutes or more.

What Are Puy Lentils?

While some use these terms interchangeably with French lentils, Puy lentils, or lentilles du Puy, are a lentil variety from a specific area of France. Grown in volcanic soil, the resulting Puy lentils have an even more peppery taste with a hint of earthy flavor. French lentils not labeled "Puy" have simply been grown elsewhere, likely in another part of Europe or North America.

How to Use French Lentils

Due to their hearty texture, French lentils can be used in different ways from your run-of-the-mill lentil. Since they stay firm, they're ideal for filling salads like French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese or Mediterranean Style Roasted Red Pepper and Lentil Salad. French lentils also don't break down and absorb all the liquid in dishes, meaning you can make brothy soups, such as Lebanese Lemon Lentil Soup, or saucy dishes, like Lentil Bolognese, without worrying about them becoming a mushy mess. French lentils can also be subbed in for green or brown lentils, just keep an eye on the cooking time as they take longer to become soft.

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