Pasted directly from www.wikipedia.com:
The plant likely originated in the Near East, and has been part of the human diet since the aceramic (non-pottery producing) Neolithic times, being one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East. With approximately 26% of their calories from protein, lentils and generally any pulses or legumes have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any plant-based food after soybeans and hemp and is an important part of the diet in many parts of the world, especially in the Indian subcontinent which has large vegetarian populations.
Ahhhh how I love lentils. Lentils are cost effective, you can buy them in bulk, and they are super duper tasty and versatile. My FAVORITE way to eat lentils is in a super easy cold salad. The beauty of a lentil salad is that you can really put anything in it! Here is a basic lentil salad recipe.....note that I'm not including measurements, as the proportions can be adjusted as need be.
Cilantro, fresh (loosely minced)
Red wine vinegar
Fresh ground pepper
Put the cooked lentils in a bowl. Add a clove or two of fresh pressed garlic (remember that this is a raw dish, so the garlic taste can be strong-be a bit conservative with it, as it can be really strong). Add the chopped cilantro (if you don't like cilantro, you can substitute flat leaf parsley). In a separate bowl whisk: EVOO, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Pour that over the lentils and add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. The great thing about this salad is that you can add any other kinds of fresh (i.e. zuchinni, carrots, celery, etc) veggies or cooked veggies (i.e. mushrooms, asparagus tips, etc). Bon appetit!