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.
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
Drain lentils and rinse well, place in pot and add:
3 cups water
3/4-1 tsp. salt, or another desired seasoning
Heat stove to high heat.
When water just begins to boil, turn heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until they have achieved the desired texture.
Drain lentils and enjoy.
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.