Discover how to cook lentils every time precisely! They’re delicious, nutritious, and simple to prepare, and they’re an excellent way to add protein to salads, side dishes, and more. Split lentils take only 5–10 minutes to prepare, whereas other varieties take 20–30 minutes. Additionally, unlike other legumes, lentils do not require pre-soaking before cooking. Lentils are simple to prepare.
Compared to many other legumes, they require no pre-soaking and may be cooked in less than 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can use canned lentils, and it is preferable to rinse them before cooking to remove any contaminants. After that, you may set them in a pot, cover them with water and a pinch of salt, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 20–30 minutes.
Your lentils should be slightly crunchy or soft, as desired. Once boiled, strain and rinse them under cold running water to avoid further cooking. Specific lentils, such as split orange lentils, cook in less than five minutes and are ideal for preparing a quick dinner or cooking an already-cooked meal. Additionally, you may cook lentils in bulk and eat them for lunch or dinner throughout the week, as they will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator. Lentils are a super-nutritious and simple side dish, but what are these flavorful little pods? They are genuinely legumes, along with peas, peanuts, and beans.
What Are Lentils?
Lentils are the dried seeds of the lentil plant, a legume. They are small and spherical. They are a staple element in the cuisines of South Asia, West Asia, and the Mediterranean. Due to their high fiber, carbohydrate, and protein content, lentils are an excellent food for vegan and vegetarian diets. The color, shape, size, and flavor of lentils vary considerably. Have additional inquiries? Consult our lentil guide. Lentils are small round legumes used in a wide variety of dishes throughout South Asia, West Asia, and the Mediterranean. They’re affordable, versatile, and store well for up to a year, making them an excellent pantry staple.
Lentils are also frequently used in vegan and vegetarian cuisine due to their fiber, carbohydrate, and protein content. Indeed, they provide so much protein (9g per 1/2 cup) that when readers ask for a vegan substitute for my dishes, I frequently propose lentils (hint: they’d be fantastic in my Stuffed Sweet Potatoes recipe). Lentils will keep you satiated, healthy, and energized throughout the day.
How To Cook Lentils?
My method for cooking lentils is simple! It boils down to two simple steps:
1-Rinse- Occasionally, tiny boulders or debris will be mixed with the dry lentils. Rinse the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer and pick them over before cooking to avoid ingesting them. Along with the debris, discard any shriveled lentils.
After that, simmer! Unlike with couscous or quinoa, you do not need to follow a set lentil: cups of water ratio when cooking lentils. Partly fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, then add the lentils. Simmer until the vegetables are soft. Cooking time will vary according to the variety of lentils used.
2-Bring A Pot Of Water To Boil- Fill it halfway with water, leaving enough space at the top for the water to come to a boil and some additional space for the lentils.
3-Meanwhile, Sift Through Your Lentils- You may be wondering if I’m required to do that. Indeed, you do. I once omitted this step and bit directly into a bit of rock, and it was disorienting, and I’m fortunate that I didn’t chip my tooth.
How to sort your lentils: Pour them into a fine-mesh sieve (affiliate link) very slowly, keeping an eye out for anything unusual. After that, comb through with your fingertips for good measure. Then, using a sieve, rinse your lentils to eliminate any dust.
4-Once The Water Is Boiling, Add The Lentils- Reduce the heat to a brisk simmer as needed. There is no need to cover the pot—I prefer to monitor them.
5-Add Some Flavor Boosters, If You’d Like- Add some salt, a bay leaf, and possibly a garlic clove (peeled but left whole). While some recipes advise against adding salt to beans or lentils while cooking (claiming that it will prevent them from cooking), this is not true! Salt brings out the best in them.
6-Cook Until You Reach Your Desired Consistency- The amount of time required to cook lentils varies according to their variety and age, and I’ve included some starting points for each kind in the recipe below. When the timer sounds, you’ll need to check them for doneness—if they’re not entirely done, wait another minute before retesting; if they’re not done, wait a couple of minutes before retesting. Bear in mind that lentils cook quickly.
7-Strain Off The Excess Water-After cooking the lentils in a large amount of water, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any surplus. Reintroduce the lentils to the pot, turning off the heat and removing any bay leaves that may have been added. If you add a garlic clove, smash it against the pan’s side and stir it in. Season with an additional pinch or two of salt, as desired. Your lentils are now prepared!
What Is The Ratio Of Lentils To Water?
Whether cooking a single meal or feeding an army, doubling or tripling a lentil recipe is a snap! You’ll need two glasses of water for every cup of lentils. If you want to add some additional flavor, you can use vegetable broth to keep it vegan or any other broth if you’re not following a plant-based diet.
Before cooking, I would not salt the lentils as the decreasing liquid can get excessively salty. When finished, salt! Three cups of liquid (water, stock, etc.) to 1 cup of dry lentils, cooked on the stovetop. Because the lentils can double or triple in size, make sure you use a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and cook until the potatoes are cooked. Cooking time for whole lentils is usually 15-20 minutes.
Types Of Lentils And How To Use Them?
Due to their robust texture, French lentils can be used in various ways that regular lentils cannot. They’re perfect for French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese or Mediterranean Style Roasted Red Pepper and Lentil Salad since they retain their firmness. French lentils do not break down and absorb all the liquid in meals, which means you can prepare brothy soups like Lebanese Lemon Lentil Soup or saucy dishes like Lentil Bolognese without fear of them getting mushy. French lentils can also be substituted for green or brown lentils; observe the cooking time since they take longer to soften.
Not all lentil kinds are interchangeable, and each lends itself to specific types of recipes. The following are the most frequently seen variations in stores, along with advice on how to utilize them:
- Le Puy or French Green Lentils
My preferred variety of lentils! These guys maintain their shape when cooking and have a delicious crisp texture. I like to include them in lentil salads and pasta sauces, and their robust texture complements my curried lentil soup perfectly.
- Beluga Lentils
These black lentils are remarkably similar to the green lentils seen in France. Indeed, they may be used interchangeably in the majority of lentil dishes! They cook for approximately 20 minutes and have a pleasant bite. They’re my go-to when I want to include lentils into a salad or serve them as a robust side dish on their own.
- Regular Green or Brown Lentils
Green or brown lentils are also terrific choices if creating a hearty soup or stew. Instead of maintaining their structure as they cook, they soften and become mushy. I like to add the dried lentils to a large soup pot and boil for approximately 30 minutes, or until they are soft.
- Red Lentils
Red (or yellow) lentils cook faster than other lentil varieties. They become soft and delicious after only 15 minutes of boiling! They melt and dissolve during the cooking process, resulting in a delectable creamy texture. As a result, they’re an excellent addition to thick curries, stews, or an Indian dal. I even combine them to create a delectable hummus-like dip!
What Is The Taste And Texture Of French Lentils?
French lentils are a kind of green lentils around one-third the size of conventional lentils. They resemble gravel more than legumes with a modest greenish-grey hue, and they have a spicy flavor. However, what truly distinguishes French lentils is their texture. They retain their shape unusually well due to their thick skin, remaining whole and hard when many other lentils become soft and mushy. This more substantial texture necessitates a longer cooking time, frequently about 40 minutes or more. Additionally, there is a slight flavor distinction: French lentils have a somewhat flinty flavor that is earthy with a slight mineral edge. French lentils are ideal for salads, such as this one from CHOW, due to their more substantial texture (pictured).
There are a plethora of reasons to adore lentils. Due to their high fiber and protein content, these versatile legumes are a vital component of any vegan or vegetarian diet. Additionally, they are incredibly shelf-stable, making them the ideal pantry item to stock. Use them for soups and stews in the winter and cold salads in the summer. Additionally, they do not require soaking, unlike beans. They’re so quick and simple to prepare that the only challenge is not overcooking them. Dried lentils can be stored in an airtight container for up to a year, and cooked lentils can be refrigerated for up to five days in an airtight container.
While dry beans must be soaked before cooking, lentils do not require soaking. They should come out delicate without becoming mushy because they are simmered in liquid. Additionally referred to as pulses, they are pretty prominent in Indian cuisine, and I adore them because dry lentils keep in an airtight container in the pantry for years. Even cooked lentils are safe to store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. There is no more straightforward way to prepare a healthy lunch!