What are Champagne Lentils?
Champagne Lentils are grown in the heart of the Champagne region of France, famous for its celebrated sparkling wines and high quality of soil.
The ingredient is incredibly popular in sophisticated French cuisine because of its refined taste, with Michelin style restaurants often featuring the lentils on their menu. Harvested during the summer time, they grow alongside Rye which serves as a support system for the fragile lentil. They are slightly rose-coloured and thinner than regular lentils, with a subtle nutty taste. Champagne Lentils can be used just like any other lentil, in a variety of dishes and make a great alternative to meat. Their mild, nutty aroma gives a wonderful flavour particularly to oriental dishes.
The nutritional value of Champagne Lentils is very high, with French analysts claiming they have the best properties of all lentils. High in fibre and protein, lentils release slow burning carbohydrates which leave you feeling fuller for longer, plus when compared to meat and dairy, lentils have a much smaller carbon footprint in terms of production. The lentils leave nitrogen in the soil, a valuable nutrient for other growing plants.
A bit of history
Lentils are among the most ancient of vegetables. The ‘lentillon de champagne” is one of the older varieties of lentil, and has been harvested since Roman times, with a similar variety being found in an Egyptian tomb, examples of which are kept in the Louvre. The pink lentils are a rare commodity, with an annual production of approximately 100 tonnes, and are traditionally grown in the rich earth between Troyes and Rethel near the northern border of Champagne and 37 km from Reims. The unique soil composition of the Champagne region is credited with giving the lentil its sweet delicate flavour. It was known as “lentille de la reine” in the 17th century where it appeared on royal tables, production was almost wiped out because of a beetle in the 19th century, and then the lentil reappeared as regional peasant fair in the 20th century.