Lentils have all the versatility of beans without requiring that you open a can or spend hours soaking and cooking them. They’re also cheap, tasty and nutritious.

That may be part of the reason they have a reputation as crunchy hippie food. Whether you’re a skeptic or a fan, these recipes from our archives will make you appreciate lentils in a whole new light.

Black Lentil Salad With Tzatziki, Avocado and Pea Shoots, above. Earthy black lentils get punched up with olives and a bright tzatziki in this meatless meal. Because so much of it can be made in advance, it would be ideal for a decidedly not-sad desk lunch, assuming you keep the components separate and assemble right before eating.

Roasted Radishes, Potatoes and Crispy Lentils. A feast for the eyes as well as your stomach, this colorful collection of vegetables is made for your spring table. Cooking the lentils until they’re just barely tender and then crisping them in the oven gives the dish a satisfying crunch.

One-Pan Chicken and Lentils. This 45-minute dinner takes lentils in the opposite direction, cooking them to almost saucy perfection with coconut milk and broth. The lentils pick up even more flavor once the yogurt-coated chicken is nestled in them to roast.

Lentil Salad With Roasted Potato WedgesSo you want french fries for dinner? We feel ya. That’s not quite a meal, but you can do better with this hearty vegan salad. The potatoes are downright irresistible, and you can feel good about the bigger picture when they’re paired with lentils and salad greens.

Thai Red Curry With Lentils and TofuYou’ll get protein from the lentils, sure, but you’ll get even more once you add tofu to the mix. A rich curry is great once in a while. This recipe, however, takes a lighter approach by using less coconut milk.

Tacos With Spicy, Smoky LentilsIf you’re in the market for a meatless taco and aren’t satisfied with a tortilla full of vegetables, look no further than this recipe. You’ll find plenty of other ways to use any extra lentils, too, whether it’s as the base of a soup or in a grain bowl.

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