Among nature, history and territory: tradition meets science and innovation is our new bi-weekly column, which deals with typical products, organic at zero km, and surrounding ecomony. Stefania Montori and Lucia De Carolis will accompany us on this journey that turns 360 days on a very fascinating world to explore.
Here you will find the first part of the article. Lentils between history and legend If lentils have become the subject of numerous symbolisms, it is because they are a very ancient food that has represented an important source of sustenance for populations of different eras and origins.
Suffice it to say that they have been known and consumed since the Neolithic era. And that they were the first legume in history to be grown and the first food to be cooked. Their cultivation begins in Egyptian land, where the waters of the Nile made the soil fertile with silt.
And where, it is said, that the ships left Pelusio, the mythological homeland of Achilles, to transport them to Greece and Magna Graecia. For millennia they have therefore represented an important product of trade and agriculture in the countries of the Mediterranean basin.
They were appreciated as much by the Greeks as by the Romans. So much so that the emperor Caligula chose a load of lentils to protect, during transport by sea, the Egyptian obelisk that today towers over St. Peter's Square.
Like any celebrity, however, lentils also have supporters and detractors. And if Pliny praised their nutritional properties and the ability to relax souls, the scholar Artemidoro, in his treatise on the interpretation of dreams, considered them heralds of grief and misfortune.
The Renaissance doctor Petronius recommended them to those who wished to lead a modest life, since at the time they were considered the food of the humble, in the court of Louis XIV they had even been relegated to horse feed.
Not even Alexandre Dumas was a great admirer of them. In his 'Grand Dictionnair de Cuisine' of 1873 he even speaks of it as a bad food.
The story is rich and extensive, but we like to cook it in a simple and healthy way.
It will be accompanied with a tomato sauce and sausages. It differs from other places, due to the characteristic of combining it with Cotechino or pig's trotters. Lentils can be found fresh, dried, frozen or in a jar (with preserving liquid); their consumption includes the whole form, pureed, pureed or in the form of flour.
It is one of the very few legumes that, even when dried, does not require rehydration soaking; however, cooking must be done in cold water brought to a boil.
Lentils can be an excellent first course, a single dish (if accompanied with other foods), a side dish or the basis for some bread-making products or ethnic condiments.
Each country, each city has its own lentil. Here are some examples In Italy, the most famous and widespread lentils are:
Altamura Lentil, Protected Geographical Indication (I.G.P.)
Lentil from Castelluccio di Norcia, Protected Geographical Indication (I.G.P.)
Lentil from Santo Stefano di Sessanio, traditional agri-food product and Slow Food presidium
Lentil from Ustica, traditional agri-food product and Slow Food presidium
Onano Lentil, traditional agri-food product and Slow Food presidium
Lentil from Rascino, traditional agri-food product and Slow Food presidium
Colfiorito lentil, traditional agri-food product
Villalba lentil, traditional agri-food product
Ventotene lentil, traditional agri-food product
Lentil from Valle Agricola, traditional agri-food product
Black lentil from Leonforte or Monti Erei, traditional agri-food product.
Our article will deal with the Civita di Cascia mountain lentil, grown from 900 to 1,300 meters above sea level. which Prince Carlo and Camilla like so much (the company present in Florence, on the occasion of the Slow food fair, 2017, organized by Carlo Petrini, has amazed the English royals with its products.
The Prince's idea was to reproduce the Florence fair at Buckingham Palace but then the pandemic cooled all enthusiasm. Lentils consist of:
11% water Lentils are very nutritious and energetic: 100 grams of product provide 291 kcal Chemical components: Isoflavones, Thiamine, Vitamin PP.
They are rich in fiber, protein, iron, magnesium and potassium. NUTRITIONAL VALUE FOR 100 gr. of boiled lentils. Nutritional values:
Calories 116 Fat 0.4 g Saturated fatty acids 0.1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Sodium 2 mg Potassium 369 mg
Carbohydrates 20 g Dietary fiber 8 g Sugar 1.8 g Proteins 9 g
Vitamin C 1,5 mg Calcium 19 mg Iron 3,3 mg Vitamin D 0 IU
Vitamin B6 0.2 mg Cobalamin 0 µg Magnesium 36 mg Lentils: therapeutic and beneficial activities, useful natural remedy against: anemia, physical and mental fatigue, malnutrition, constipation, free radicals, diabetes.
They also boast of lactiferous properties. Thanks to the many vitamins contained and the nutritional principles, lentils are often called "the meat of the poor" In vegetarian and vegan diets they can represent a good substitute for animal proteins.
Iron is a valuable ally against anemia, while the other vitamins help to cope with states of psychophysical stress and to fight malnutrition or the loss of mineral salts (especially after a sporting activity). They are also useful for regulating intestinal transit and preventing constipation.
Finally, their consumption is also recommended for diabetics and to fight free radicals.
Despite this, consumption is concentrated between November and January, although in the cases of dried legumes these can be found on the market practically every month of the year. From the scientific world: many studies have been conducted that show that the consumption of legumes 3-4 times a week instead of meat and fish leads not only to an improvement in overweight and obesity but also in diseases such as Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases.
Furthermore, not everyone knows that in some Stages of Renal Failure, the low-protein hypophosphoric diet can be alternated with protein-free products and the Vegan Diet in which the protein intake is represented by legumes with common bread and pasta.
From the point of view of cancer prevention, the European Oncology Institute also recommends the consumption of legumes and the reduction of meat, eggs and cheeses. As for the peels of legumes, they can also be eaten in the form of puree, but with the vegetable puree because the minerals and iron of which legumes are rich in the peel are lost, and therefore it is advisable to blend them, for example with a hand mixer.
The most common method of preparation of lentils is in a pan, both for boiling and stewing. Whole seeds with peel usually require a maximum cooking time of 40 '
Being legumes, lentils represent a mine in terms of protein, fiber, iron, magnesium and potassium.
They are defined as the meat of the poor for its protein content. Recommended for those on a restricted diet. Unlike the other species of legumes, lentils in general, that of Civita grown at about 1,000 meters above sea level, has a high content of trace elements, so for the same weight of the product it produces greater satiety.
Since the skin is thin, it can also be ingested by those suffering from diseases such as Diverticula (moderate doses due to the high fiber content) It does not have to be soaked, again for its thin skin. The cold at high altitudes makes it more tender and thin.
In the diet, lentils play a decidedly positive role. Compared to refined cereals and their derivatives, such as pasta from white flour, they allow to reduce the total caloric intake, moderating the intake of carbohydrates and increasing proteins, fibers and water, they decrease the speed of digestion to the advantage of satiety, enrich the meal with vitamins and minerals, nourish the intestinal bacterial flora and regulate the hive and are considered ideal products in the diet against metabolic pathologies - especially dyslipidemia.
Unlike other legumes, however, dried lentils are more digestible and cause less intestinal swelling. Lentils do not contain cholesterol, but phytosterols, substances with a cholesterol-lowering action. The content of lecithins and polyphenolic antioxidants is appreciable.
They are also free of lactose, gluten and histamine. On the other hand, phenylalanine is abundant, while purines appear on average. Lentils contain many vitamins, almost all of the water-soluble type of group B. In this case we can appreciate the level of: folate, thiamine (vit B1), pantothenic acid (vit B5) and pyridoxine (vit B6).
Excellent contribution of certain minerals, especially iron, phosphorus and zinc. we are talking about substances that can somehow help us in the management of our moods, but that do not replace drugs when the problems are more important.
Having made this necessary premise, the table is truly "populated" by many friends of the psyche. Lentils are considered "natural antidepressants": they are in fact rich in iron and we know that this substance can have effects on behavior and psychophysical performance.
Furthermore, having lentils a high protein content, they are also a valid alternative to meat. In this regard, remember that we all ingest too many animal proteins, the total intake of which should not exceed 1 gram per kilo of weight per day.
It is therefore advisable, even 3 times a week, to have a single meal with legumes and cereals. Recipe: wash the lentil well, put in a saucepan with cold water, add a little salt and bring to a boil. Boil it for about 20 min.
Separately, prepare a very light tomato sauce, diluted with water, in which the sausage is also cooked (1 per person).
Drain the lentils and season them in the sauce with the sausages, whole. Little secret: add a sprig of rosemary to give it a particular scent and very tasty flavor (to prevent it from dispersing in the pot, wrap it with kitchen thread). Very particular taste.