Lentils ‘Lenticchia’ – Lens Culinaris.
Lentils are one of the oldest domesticated crops, originating in the middle east and eastern Mediterranean around 8,000 years ago. The Romans called them ‘lens’ (now the scientific name) because of their double convex shape.
Lentils are a much-loved ingredient of Italian cooking. They are very nutritious, a good source of protein and have a nutty and slightly earthy flavour.
Small, green Italian lentils are traditionally eaten at new year with cotechino, a type of salami, or zampone - pigs’ trotters! Traditionally it is said that the more lentils you eat, the more money you will make.
The plants produce a multitude of pods with two lentils in each. They are usually dried, shelled and stored until needed.
Annual: soak the seed for several hours to aid germination. Sow from April to July, 2 cm deep, in free-draining soil.
Alternatively, sow indoors in early spring and transplant outside when plants are large enough to handle. Lentils don’t like it too damp or wet.
Plant next to a small trellis or at least 10 cm apart to let the air circulate around them.
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