How To Make Perfect Lentils
Lentils are one of the most budget-friendly foods you can incorporate into your diet. But you have to know how to cook them correctly. Keep reading for detailed instructions for making a perfect batch of lentils.
Are you watching your food budget like a hawk?
If so, meet lentils. One of the cheapest, most bang-for-your-buck items in the supermarket.
A 1-lb bag of lentils – good for several meals – costs right around $1.50.
Lentils are super versatile, a good source of fiber, and easy to make once you know the basic steps. Making just one lentil-based meal a week will help you save significant money over time.
What Are Lentils?
Lentils and beans come from the legume family. Lentils are small, round pulses that grow in pods. They are sold dried.
Lentils come in many varieties – different sizes, colors, and textures. Lentils are very common in Indian cooking, where they are called dal (the lentil) – and are used to make many varieties of dal (the dish).
Recipes Using Cooked Lentils
While cooked lentils can certainly be eaten plain, they are really easy to dress up. Here are some of my favorite ways to use lentils:
- In salads:
- In soups:
- In veggie burgers (like these curried lentil burgers)
- In this unique lemon-lentil dip
- With rice
- In Indian dishes
- As a side dish
How To Make (Perfect) Lentils
These instructions are for green, brown, or French lentils. Red and yellow lentils are cooked slightly differently.
To make a perfect batch of green, brown or French lentils, you’ll need:
- 1 part dried lentils (green, brown, or French)
- 2 parts water
1: Soak lentils: For best results – and to help aid in the digestion of lentils – soak lentils in hot water for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours before cooking. If you’re crunched for time, simply start with step two.
2: Rinse: Place lentils in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Remove any discolored lentils or ones that are unusually small.
3: Choose cooking vessel: Place lentils in an appropriately-sized saucepan (use a large saucepan if you are making a large amount of lentils, a small saucepan if you are making a small amount of lentils, etc.). Add water. (Remember, it’s 2 parts water to 1 part lentils)
4: Cook lentils: Turn heat to medium-high and cook until the water comes to a rapid simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low so that the water gently simmers. Simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can add a bit of water to the pot if it dries out before the lentils are done cooking, but don’t overdo it. You’ll know the lentils are done when they are fork tender but not mushy.
5: Remove from heat. To remove unwanted skins, place lentils in a strainer and rinse with cold water.
6: Eat or store: Use immediately or store lentils in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to two months.
Please note: Don’t salt the lentils until they are done cooking! If you add to the pan while cooking, the lentils may get tough.