In the history of mankind, especially in the Mediterranean area, vegetables have always been key for nutritional value, especially for  protein content. When combined with grains they create a quality protein intake, as  meat and fish were scarce and poorly distributed among the population.

Rich in protein, calories, minerals and carbohydrates, lentils were one of the dietary staples of the Romans. Today they are still important because the total protein intake should include vegetable protein.

The fat content of lentils is very low, as is the fiber content, lower than other legumes. The composition is rich in vitamins B1, B3, and B6, and folic acid. In addition to iron, lentils are also high in minerals such as zinc and selenium (a mineral antioxidant that protects cells against oxidation in the body caused by free radicals).

Spanish way of cooking Lentils 

Time: 2 h 
Difficulty: Easy  
Price: Affordable                                              

2 carrots, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 green pepper, seeds removed & discarded, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 onion, cut in half

2 tablespoons Virgin Olive Oil 
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
2 potatoes, diced

Salt to taste
1/2 kg lentils

Additional: rice (ideal for vegetarians), or chorizo, as well as diced bacon.

Soak the lentils in a bowl with water the day before cooking. Drain lentils and then boil with the bay leaf in a saucepan filled with water, covered tightly. 

In a skillet stir-fry the onion halves with two tablespoons olive oil, and before they brown, add a teaspoon of paprika. Stir for two minutes and transfer into the pot which you are cooking the lentils in. 

Once lentils start tenderizing, add the  garlic, peppers, carrots, and potatoes. Add salt to taste, and if you wish, chorizo or diced bacon. They can also be accompanied by Jalapeno peppers, or spicy chilies.

Leftover lentils can be pureed in a blender or with a Chinese masher, and then frozen to enjoy another day. You can also garnish with croutons and boiled egg slices.

How to make homemade croutons

It is better to use stale bread. Cut the bread into slices. Put some olive oil in a fry pan and when it is hot, add the slices. 

When sufficiently browned, take them out of the pan, and drain off the excess oil (or use toasted bread instead of frying). Once they are cold, cut them into small cubes.