Pinchin’ Pennie$ in the Kitchen: Pizza, Soup, Granola and More! How to Use Lentils in Your Recipes

(FN1740, Reviewed March 2024)

Pulse foods include chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), lentils and split peas. These inexpensive foods provide protein, complex carbohydrates, and several vitamins and minerals. Like other plant-based foods, they contain no cholesterol and little fat or sodium. They are an excellent source of fiber and folate, along with many other vitamins and minerals. Top pizza with lentils or add them to soup, side dishes or granola, which are recipes featured on Page 2 of this publication.

Lead Author
Lead Author:
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist
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Publication Sections

Preparing Lentils

Remove any small stones, then place the lentils in a strainer and rinse with water. Lentils do not need to be soaked. For every cup of lentils, add 2½ cups of unsalted water. Heat water to boiling, then simmer lentils for 15 to 20 minutes. 

1 cup dry lentils + 2½ cups water = about 2½ cups of cooked lentils


Key to abbreviations

c. = cup oz. = ounce

tsp. = teaspoon g = gram

Tbsp. = tablespoon mg = milligram

Lentil Mini Pizzas

1/3 c. dry (uncooked) brown lentils, rinsed

1 1/3 c. water

4 (6-inch) whole-wheat pitas

1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

¼ c. red onion, thinly sliced into rings

½ c. red bell pepper, chopped (or other pepper)

¼ tsp. black pepper

c tsp. salt

½ c. spreadable cream cheese (such as garlic and herb)

6 Tbsp. shredded cheese (of choice)

In a 1-quart saucepan, combine lentils with water and bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer gently until lentils are just tender, about 25 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside. Preheat broiler and place pitas on a nonstick baking sheet; broil for three minutes. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat; coat with cooking spray. Add zucchini, onion, red bell pepper , black pepper and salt. Sauté mixture for three minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in lentils. Remove pitas from the oven, then spread 2 tablespoons of spreadable cream cheese on each pita. Top evenly with vegetables and shredded cheese. Broil three minutes or until edges are brown and cheese is melted.

Makes four servings. Per serving: 340 calories, 13 g fat, 13 g protein, 45 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber and 710 mg sodium.

Lentil Granola

1½ c. dry (uncooked) red lentils

5 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. olive oil or other salad oil

1 c. rolled oats

5 oz. sliced almonds

1 c. shaved coconut

1 c. dried cranberries or desired dried fruit

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add lentils and simmer for five minutes or until just tender. Drain lentils and spread on a tray. Allow to steam-dry and cool. Preheat oven to 300 F. Combine honey, vanilla and olive oil in a bowl. Toss the cooled lentils in the honey mixture. Spread the coated lentils on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir in oats and almonds and continue baking for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Next add coconut and dried fruit and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until everything is browned. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Makes 24 servings (¼ c. each). Each serving has 150 calories, 6 g fat, 5 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 10 mg sodium.

Barbecue Baked Lentils

4 c. water

2 c. dry (uncooked) brown lentils

½ tsp. salt, divided

1 c. onions, diced

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

2/3 c. ketchup

1/3 c. maple syrup

¼ c. prepared mustard

½ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. allspice

¼ tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine water, lentils and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes. Drain lentils in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooked liquid. Combine lentils, diced onions and chopped red pepper in an 11- by 7-inch baking dish. Combine ¼ teaspoon salt, reserved cooking liquid, ketchup and the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Pour the ketchup mixture over the lentil mixture, stirring to combine. Bake at 350 F for one hour.

Makes eight servings (1 c. each). Each serving has 240 calories, 1.5 g fat, 14 g protein, 45 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber and 490 mg sodium.

Red Lentil Soup

8 c. chicken broth, low-sodium

2 c. red lentils (dry)

4 medium carrots, diced (about 2 c.)

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. paprika

2 chicken bouillon cubes, low-sodium

1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained

1 large onion, diced (about 2 c.)

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lemon, juiced (about a c. juice)

Fresh parsley (for garnish)

Optional: 1 c. roasted chicken, diced

Sort, then rinse lentils. Add to broth and bring to a boil. Add diced carrots. Cover; cook for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally. When lentils are tender, add dry spices, bouillon cubes and diced tomatoes. Sauté onion and garlic in a frying pan using olive oil. When golden brown, add to soup mixture. Add chicken if desired. Simmer for five minutes. Turn off heat and add lemon juice to pot; stir. Garnish bowls of soup with parsley if desired.

Makes 12 servings (¾ c. each). Each serving has 190 calories, 4 g fat, 13 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber and 125 mg sodium.



This project was made possible in part with funding from Northern Pulse Growers Association.

Visit www.northernpulse.com for more information.


For more information about nutrition, food safety and health, visit: www.ag.ndsu.edu/food