Today’s sprouted lentil recipe is inspired by my fascination with learning to grow my own sprouts from beans and seeds. It’s been a thing for a while and I’ve always wanted to give it a try, but never got around to it.
This is why I love what I do, because now I have an actual reason to try this method of preparing beans and grains. I can actually try it out, write about it and share it with you.
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Why grow sprouts with beans and grains?
So, you may ask yourself, why do I want to grow sprouts? There are lots of reasons why you should consider giving them a try. While they do take a little bit of time to create, it’s really not that time consuming. Less than two minutes a day to rinse them and set them back up to do their thing. And within a short period (3-7 days) your sprouts are ready to go.
My top reasons to try growing sprouts!!
Sprouted beans and grains are healthy and have a different flavor
The flavor of sprouted lentils or beans is a bit different than the cooked version and they for sure have a crunchier texture which makes them an excellent addition for certain dishes. I find the flavor to be earthier and the texture crisp.
Less likelihood of contamination by foodborne illness
Making your own sprouts may also be a healthy alternative to buying them. I feel like commercial sprouts are constantly in the news as the source of a foodborne illness. In a commercial environment there are lots of points of contamination possible. Since sprouts are eaten raw you can’t cook away bacteria that may be growing in the sprouts you bring home from the store. While there may still be some risk with homegrown sprouts, the chance of contamination is less likely.
Less expensive than store-bought products
The cost of making sprouted lentils is nominal. Even when spending more money on certified sprouting seeds the cost is still lower. Just a half cup of seeds will likely create 4-5 cups of sprouts. So while sprouting legumes and grains may take a bit of effort, the cost savings is enormous when you make your own.
Fresher product when you make at home than when buying at the store
How many times have you bought a package of sprouts or other produce at the store, only to open it up when you get home and discover that it’s less than fresh? Since you are making the sprouts yourself, you know exactly how long since they’ve been ready to consume so you are more likely to have a fresh and great tasting product than if you buy it in the supermarket. Also, you have more control over making just the amount you need.
How to use sprouted beans and grains?
In my opinion the uses for sprouted legumes are limitless.
They make a great addition to a sautéed pasta or rice dish. I recommend, using them in dishes that are cooked quickly. You don’t want to cook them for extended period of time because the sprouted portion of the legume will get soggy.
For me, the sprouts shine the most in a salad as you will see in today’s sprouted lentil recipe below. Today I am sharing an Asian style salad with crunchy lentil sprouts and a delicious peanut dressing. It’s served with a super yummy Thai Peanut Sauce or dressing which you can whip up in a food processor or blender in just a few short minutes.
Since the legumes soften as they soak in water and with the sprouting process, you can easily use them to make dips. Use sprouted chickpeas in your regular hummus dip for a slightly different flavor and texture.
What legumes or seeds can be sprouted?
So, my experience so far, is only with chickpeas, lentils and wheat. I started with the lentils because they are one of my favorites, and to be quite honest they sprout so quickly it just made sense to start with something so fast and easy. You get usable sprouts by day three, but I like to let them grow an additional day at least to get a longer tail. I’ve seen a great deal on the internet about sprouted mung beans and they seem to be very easy to sprout. I’d recommend starting with them or with lentils.
You can sprout just about any legume or seed with a few exceptions. Chia and flax seeds will sprout but the process may be a bit difficult to get just right mainly because of their gooey texture when they get wet.
Legumes in general contain compounds that may be difficult to digest or even harmful to eat raw. These compounds are generally destroyed by cooking, soaking and/or sprouting. In most cases, sprouting destroys these compounds as well as cooking them does. Some of the nutrients are bound in the legumes as well and cooking or sprouting releases them making the nutrients accessible for the body to use.
Quinoa and kidney beans may be harmful if sprouted and eaten raw.
However, kidney beans in particular contain a toxin and should NEVER be eaten raw. If you decide to sprout kidney beans, cook them in boiling water for 10-15 minutes after sprouting and before consuming.
Be careful with quinoa as well because it contains a great deal of saponins. Have you ever noticed the soapy bubbles that form on top of the water when you rinse your quinoa? That is caused by the saponin. Some folks have an allergy towards saponin and while rinsing and cooking helps to remove some of the saponin, eating them sprouted may cause a bit of illness or discomfort for those who have an allergy or sensitivity towards it.
Concerns with eating sprouts
Are eating sprouts really safe? Even when you grow sprouts at home?
Anytime you eat raw products such as fruits and vegetables there is a definite risks of exposure to foodborne bacteria. This is because many of the bacteria that grow in food such as salmonella, E. coli, listeria and others are killed in the cooking process. But when foods aren’t cooked and these bacteria are present they aren’t killed. Sprouts also are grown in a warm, moist environment which is the perfect environment for these types of bacteria to thrive.
The FDA recommends cooking all sprouts before eating and groups (pregnant women, elderly and children) that are more susceptible to life threatening illnesses from these bacteria should avoid eating raw sprouts.
However, when making sprouts at home, you have much more control over the environment than a commercial kitchen, so there is less chance for an issue. However, there are some basic ways to ensure safe handling when you are making your own sprouts are:
- Wash your hands before handling.
- Use clean tap water or boiled water.
- Be sure your equipment is clean and sterile before starting the process.
- Rinse and sterilize the seeds as well.
- Be sure you keep your sprouts in a safe area where they won’t be contaminated by raw meat or unwashed produce in your kitchen.
- Purchase seeds marketed for germination.
At the end of the day, I believe that the growing sprouts in your home are less likely to be exposed to contamination by bacteria than those you buy at the grocery store. You have control over the environment and freshness of the product. But remember that if the sprouts look or smell funny you should exercise caution and throw them away.
What utensils are needed to get started?
There really isn’t a need for any special or expensive equipment needed to begin growing sprouts. But you do need a few items that you should easily be able to find at the grocery store.
- Large Jar
- Clean water (filtered or boiled)
Step by step process for growing sprouts
Growing sprouts is a really simple process. It is recommended that you buy seeds from a certified seed supplier and choose seeds especially produced to be germinated. This recommendation is for food safety and better results.
- The first step after selecting what you want to sprout is be sure to rinse the legume or grain seeds.
- Next, soak the seeds. All the legumes need a minimum of eight hours. It doesn’t need to be exact, but they really do need at least eight hours. Grains will need less time. I soaked the wheat grains for six hours with good results. Make sure you are using clean water to rinse and soak the beans during all steps of the process. I suggest either boiling your water or using filtered water to rinse and soak.
- After soaking time ends, rinse the seeds again and drain off the excess water.
- Once you drain as much of the water as possible off the seeds, cover with the cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band.
- Prop the jar at a 45 degree angle or such in the bowl. This angle will allow any additional water to drain from the container.
- Now, all you need to do is to rinse the legumes twice a day until they reach the desired state of sprouting you want.
- Once they reach the length you want, wash the sprouts well with fresh clean water. Then lay them out on a tray lined with a clean dish towel or paper towels to drain off residual moisture for about 30 minutes to an hour.
- After drained, store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. I like to store in an airtight container lined with a paper towel or clean dish towel.
My results when growing sprouts
So for sprouting lentils for this post, I tested a grain and two different legumes. I had successfully sprouted lentils before but tried them out again. I find them to be extremely easy and fast. The first time around I allowed them to sprout for about 4 days and they grew about 1 inch tails. The second time around, I harvested on the third day. They had a shorter tail but were adequate for this recipe.
The garbanzo beans didn’t work so well. I would say that about half of my garbanzo beans didn’t sprout at all after three days. Maybe if I let them sprout longer they would have sprouted more. But I think I would have ended up with a wide variety of lengths of sprouts. I also only used store-bought beans and might have better results with a product certified for sprouting.
Next, I will be trying out adzuki beans, mung beans and also working to perfect the process with the garbanzo beans.
The Sprouted Lentil Recipe
Asian Sprouted Lentil Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
- 2 cups sprouted lentils*
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- ½ red, yellow or orange bell pepper thinly sliced
- ½ cup green onion sliced on a bias
- 1 medium carrot shredded
- 2 cups purple cabbage shredded
- 2 cups kale or spinach julienned
- ½ cucumber sliced and quartered
- 4 tsp black sesame seeds
- ½ cup unsweetened peanut butter
- ¼ - ½ cup water as needed to thin out the sauce
- 1 T honey
- 2 T reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 T unseasoned rice vinegar
- ½ lime juiced
- 1 inch fresh ginger minced
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- ½ tsp dark sesame oil
- 2-4 drops of sriracha sauce optional
- Combine the peanut butter through the sesame oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Start with ¼ cup water and add more as needed in order to reach the desired consistency. I like mine to be thick but able to drizzle and ended up only using about ¼ cup of water to reach that consistency.
- Mix together the quinoa, cabbage, spinach and shredded carrots. Split up into four bowls. Then place the sprouted lentils on top of the quinoa in the center of the bowl. Place the bell pepper strips, green onions and cucumber on top. Drizzle each salad with 2 oz of the dressing before serving.
If you like this sprouted lentil recipe I suggest cooking these other recipes made with black beans and lentils.
Did you like today’s sprouted lentil recipe?
Please leave me a comment telling me your experience in preparing this recipe. Have you sprouted legumes yet? How do you like them and which is your favorite?
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