Turn To Lentils For A Vegetarian Take On Minced Meat

lentil sloppy joes
lentil sloppy joes - KailaRae/Shutterstock

With the number of people embracing a vegetarian diet worldwide being expected to hit one billion this year, it is no surprise that many shoppers have begun seeking ingredients that can serve as a meat substitute with increased fervor. These include everything from mushrooms and tofu to nuts and legumes. One such legume has been on the vegetarian eating scene for a while, and still manages to consistently impress: lentils. While they can be transformed into a variety of different dishes, their flavor, texture, and nutrition are remarkably suited to replacing recipes that include minced meat.

Minced meat, also referred to as ground meat, refers to the finely-cut meat you often see used as a base for burgers, a filling to things like shepherd's pie, or a hearty addition to soups and sauces. It is relied on as a major source of flavor in many dishes. Lentils meet the same criteria without any animal products required. They have a savory, umami flavor and — when cooked properly — a toothsome, chewy texture that can mimic a carnivorous dining experience. What's more, lentils are packed with fiber and protein that will fill you up and make you feel both satisfied and energized all day long.

Read more: 21 Delicious Ways To Use Up Leftover Rice

How To Substitute Lentils In Recipes

many colors of dried lentils
many colors of dried lentils - Gulcin Ragiboglu/Shutterstock

When cooking lentils to use as a minced meat replacement, it is important to pay attention to which kind of lentils you are choosing and how you cook them. For example, brown, green, and French lentils tend to retain a meatier texture and earthier flavor when cooked, whereas red and black lentils become soft and slightly sweet. For this reason, you'll want to opt for the former group when selecting lentils for this purpose. Additionally, if you plan on using the lentils in a recipe where they will be cooked a second time, aim to undercook them slightly by a few minutes in order to preserve a firmer texture.

The lentils can be seasoned according to whatever recipe you are using; however, there are some additions you can make in order to give them a flavor even more reminiscent of meat. Products like liquid smoke will give your lentil mix a flame-grilled taste. Meanwhile, ingredients like coconut aminos and mushroom powder will deepen their umami quality. Mix and match the seasonings you enjoy most to find a flavor profile that most resembles your meat of choice and best suits your dish.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.