Food Trend Spotlight — Labor-Saving Techniques with Lentils

With limited staff and resources, utilizing ingredients that require less labor while also providing menu versatility may seem like an impossible feat. There are some ingredients, like lentils, that can work double duty for you, making at least one thing easier in the kitchen. Below are three reasons why lentils can be your labor-saving solution.

1. Cross-Menu Utilization

Lentils are an ideal secret weapon for cross-menu utilization, able to star on the center of the plate or to add nutrition and texture to a wide array of dishes throughout the day. Lentils act as a flavor sponge, easily adapting and absorbing global flavor profiles like sauces, dressings, and marinades within a composed dish. They provide endless adaptability, with the ability to move seamlessly across meal parts while helping you move through your inventory. Lentils can start the day on a brunch menu in a shakshuka bowl or a breakfast burrito, lend extra protein to a salad or power bowl at lunch, add flavor to a happy hour nacho platter, and make meat go further at dinner in a blended burger or meatloaf.

Lentils.org Corporate Chef James Bickmore-Hutt explains how cross-utilization can broaden consumers’ horizons: “Lentils are nostalgic and approachable in ingredient identity, but have the ability to do so much for the operator and their menu, like bind meat blends, boost flavor, improve texture, provide crunch, enhance nutrition and up protein, and balance cost and perceived value in a meaningful way.”

2. Pre-Cooked Options

Even though preparing lentils takes a mere 15-20 minutes, that may be 15-20 minutes you don’t have right now, so using a pre-cooked lentil may be the labor-saver for you. Pre-cooked lentils are ready to use and pack the same nutrient-dense punch as a dried product, with 12 grams of protein in just half a cup, as well as 8 grams of fiber. Contact us to learn more about these options.

3. Ingredient Consistency

A common challenge in the restaurant industry is consistency, and that is made even more difficult when you are short-staffed in the kitchen. Check out our helpful resource to cook consistent lentils every time on a variety of kitchen equipment you may have in your commercial kitchen.

You also need a product that can stand up to long hold times so that it is ready to go when you need it. Lentils hold well on hot or cold lines for extended periods of time, ensuring that whether they are in the first or last plating, you are providing a consistently delicious product.

Cross-Utilization in Action:

These plant-based and blended crumbles can all be used in a variety of ways including taco fillings, rolled in a burrito, nacho topping, as a bowl topping, and much more:

Lentils perform great in marinated and composed salads, because they continue to soak up flavors and actually get better with time. Here are some great ideas for a dish that could be used as a side dish, stand-alone salad, or bowl base across your menu:

Of course there are so many other ways that lentils fit across many elements of your menu. One big opportunity is with power bowls – match lentils with a variety of whole grains and seasonal produce to introduce seasonally inspired LTO’s. Learn more about lentils in bowls here.

Interested in innovating with lentils on your menu? Consult with our corporate chef – email us at info@lentils.org and we will be in touch.