How To Cook Lentils
Lentils are a healthy and versatile food. They are also inexpensive, making them a great staple for anyone interested in healthy, frugal living.
Lentils are probably the fastest cooking of all the legume family, and they don’t require soaking, thereby making their preparation faster still. They are nutritious, and rich in antioxidants, selenium, and B vitamins, all of which boost the immune system. Like the other pulses, they contain anti-carcinogenic phytochemicals. They are also packed with protein, high in iron and folate and very high in fibre, which is good for your digestive and heart health.
Lentils come in a variety of types, usually described by the colour. Red lentils are by far the fastest cooking and are often used in Indian cuisine. However the green and brown varieties of lentils are more nutritious than the red variety.
1 cup dried lentils
2 cups water
1/2 tspn sea salt (to taste)
- Rinse the lentils under running water and pick through them to remove any bits of soil or rocks.
- Add lentils and water to a saucepan (with a lid) and bring to a boil.
- Turn heat down to low and cover to let the lentils simmer, but leave the lid ajar a bit so that they don’t boil over. Check on them occasionally to make sure the water has not boiled down below the level of the lentils and add more as needed.
- When the lentils are tender and can easily be mashed with a fork, they are done. It usually takes about 30-45 minutes for them to cook (older lentils take longer to cook, so it’s best to just test them to decide when they are ready), or 20 minutes if using the split red lentils. Add salt in about the last 15 minutes of cooking time, so when you think the lentils are starting to get soft. Cooking often neutralizes the taste of the salt, so if you add it at the start you end up having to add more salt to get the same flavour.
When they are finished cooking, take the saucepan off the heat and cover tightly with the lid. Leave to sit for 5-10 minutes. The lentils will absorb more of the water making them juicier and more tender. It’s not essential to do this, but I really like the way they turn out when I do.
Makes about 4 cups cooked lentils.