Lentils

If you have not fallen in love with lentils yet, you need to! Here's a cooking method to get you started with a little lentil love. Lentils are used in many different types of cuisine, and best of all: they are easy, cheap and fast to cook. Most legumes like take about 8 hours to cook on low in the slow cooker, and for digestive reasons I like them cooked low and slow. In contrast, lentils cook in 25-30 minutes on the stove top.

Lentils tend to be a little easier to digest than other larger legumes, so they are a good place to start if legumes have bothered you in the past. I know many people don't soak their lentils, but I recommend an 8-24 hour soak. Please read here on proper bean preparation. The principle the larger the bean, the longer the soak can apply to lentils, although I usually do a 24 hour soak and then refrigerate lentils in their soaking liquid until I am ready to cook them during the week. If you notice any digestive distress, I would suggest sticking with a 24 hour soak.

There are different types of lentils, but I usually use the most economical and easy to find brown lentils. They retain their shape well and are very versatile. The method below is for brown lentils.

To Soak

In a small- medium pot, mason jar, or other container combine:

  • 1 cup brown lentils

  • 3 cups water

  • 1 tsp. salt

Soak for 4-12 hours

To Cook

Drain lentils and rinse well, place in pot and add:

  • 3 cups water

  • 3/4-1 tsp. salt, or another desired seasoning

  1. Heat stove to high heat.

  2. When water just begins to boil, turn heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until they have achieved the desired texture.

  3. Drain lentils and enjoy.

TIPS

  • I like to begin soaking lentils during my 1 hour weekly food preparation, like described above. After 24 hours, I place a lid on the soaking container and store the lentils, soaking liquid and all, in the fridge until I am ready to cook them during the week. Make sure to drain and rinse lentils well before cooking.

  • Soaked lentils will absorb less water when being cooked. This doesn't matter if you drain the liquid off of your lentils after cooking, but in some dishes, such as a thick lentil soup or my Lentil Taco Salad recipe, you will need to reduce the liquid. I reduce the cooking liquid to 2 1/2 cups in my lentil's used for taco salad, because I want the lentils to absorb all of the flavored cooking liquid. You will also need to adjust the salt when reducing the liquid.

  • Some people suggest that scum is impurities rising to the surface, when cooking legumes. This is incorrect. Rather, it is the result of legumes being cooked at too high of a temperature. Legumes take time to break down and become digestible; cooking low and slow is best. For this reason, I do not recommend pressure cooking any type of legume.

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