Food Trend Spotlight – Texture There are many qualities of a good dish. One of those qualities that can set a dish apart from the rest for consumers is texture. Texture is the part of our senses when we feel the food in our mouth and can be described in terms such as hard, soft, liquid, solid, creamy, crumbly, crispy, crunchy, chewy, al dente, etc. Textural complexity has long been proven to not only compliment the flavor perception of a dish, but in some cases enhance it. Combining different textures within a dish allow for the different layers and components to compliment and contrast one another, making a truly thoughtful culinary experience.Al DenteMost know and use lentils in traditional ways by simply cooking lentils to an al dente texture. When cooked al dente, whole lentils like whole green or whole red to them with a tender bite. These are great to use as the base for power bowls and to extend or replace meat in applications like bolognese or tacos. Split lentils, such as split red lentils, cook much quicker and don’t retain their shape through cooking, quickly breaking down – these are most often used in curries, to naturally thicken soups or stews, or to blend into a pureed dip or used in baking applications. To learn more about how to cook tender al dente lentils on various volume foodservice equipment, click here.Crispy & CrunchyWe are true believers that every dish needs a little crisp or crunch to put it over the top. Crispy describes a brittle yet tender texture, similar to that of a potato chip. Crunchy describes more of a dense crunch texture which requires more chewing and accompanied by a crunchy sound. Did you know that you can transform lentils into crispy and crunchy morsels? Here’s how:Crispy – fried lentils:Pre-cooked lentils (whole or split) can be fried in a deep fryer by placing in a China cap and swirling with a whisk in the fryer oil for 2-3 minutes for split lentils, and 3-5 minutes for whole lentils. Ensure your lentils are drained well of excess water before placing into the fryer. Bonus: toss warm fried lentils with spices and aromatics to create flavorful crispy garnish toppings for eggs, power bowls, rice dishes, or a stir fry. Click here for garnish topping inspiration.Crunchy – oven-roasted lentils:Pre-cooked lentils (whole or split) can be oven-roasted to create a crunchy texture, even opening up like clam shells. Roast your cooked lentils in a 400⁰F (200⁰C) oven for 15-20 minutes for split lentils, or 30 minutes for whole lentils. Bonus: toss warm roasted lentils with spices and aromatics to create flavorful crispy garnish toppings. Click here for inspiration.More inspiration and ways to use crispy and crunchy lentils:High Protein Lentil Trail MixCrispy Lentil Crusted FishKorean Fried ChickenLentil ChaatLentil & Pistachio BrittleCinnamon Nutmeg Lentil Crumble ToppingGrilled Lentil-Crusted FetaSprouted Lentil Granola ParfaitWhether it’s crunchy, smooth, crispy, or silky, all texture is memorable. When combined with great flavor, texture can help form lasting food memories, or even encourage repeat consumption and natural consumer referral.