Lentils (Lens culinaris, fa-kes in Greek) are one of the few pulses known to the ancient Greeks, along with chick peas and lupin beans. A good source of iron - which prevents anemia - lentils need to be consumed with vitamin C for the body to absorb the mineral. Lentils go well with smoked meats or sausages and with crispy textures, such as raw celery, onions or carrots. The ancients loved a puree that they called etni. So try pureed lentils. In contrast to other pulses, lentils don't need to be soaked or boiled very long. Twenty minutes of boiling without salt is enough. Salt should be added at the end of the cooking time.
Lentils come in a range of sizes and colors, ranging from black or brown to dark green, red and yellow. Most sold in Greece are of the small variety, both domestic and imported. The most common colors are light green and light brown.The most famous Greek lentils are from Eglouvi on the island of Lefkada; others are grown in Evros, Kozani and Domokos. Red lentils (also called Egyptian, although most sold in Greece are from Turkey or India) are not grown in Greece but are imported peeled and split. These boil very quickly and are sweeter than the others.
A few decades ago, some Greek institutes established Greek varieties, which are still grown. The most famous of these are the small Samos and Dimitra varieties.
Put the lentils with the water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Throw away the water, rinse the lentils and add new water to the pot. Add your onions, carrots and garlic and stir well. Add the tomato pree and paste, bay leaves, oregano and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Let the mixture come to a boil on a medium high heat and then bring it down to a simmer. Simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately garnished with parsley and a splash of red wine vinegar.