Are there lentils in your pantry? Have you cooked them yet? They are so easy, so versatile, so tasty and so good for you. What are you waiting for?

My favorite lentil for everyday cooking is the French Green Lentil, which has a lovely blue-green mottled look when dry. It is a little more expensive than the standard brown or green lentils, but still very economical. When cooked, these lentils appear more like a faded black-bean (brown-grey?) and can indeed be substituted in most places you would use black beans. The important thing with lentils is to cook them with that broth you have started making. This is a great way to get all that goodness into your and your family’s bodies.

The basic technique for cooking lentils is as follows:
  • Measure out 1 cup lentils and rinse in a mesh sieve.
  • Plop lentils into a pot (that has a cover) and add 2 cups of liquid. This is where you can drop in that chunk of frozen broth, and add any additional water needed. (If you have not ventured into broth-making yet, add some store-bought ‘broth’, or herbs or other seasoning here.)
  • Turn on the heat, cover and simmer for around 25-30 minutes. Check them to see if most of the liquid has been absorbed, and then turn off the heat.
  • Salt to taste and serve.

Tip: you CAN pre-soak your lentils, for an hour or up to twelve. It is not strictly necessary, but will reduce phytic acid (improve digestibility), and shorten cooking time. Soak them in plain/filtered water on the counter at room temperature.

I always make extra lentils, as I find they are terrific leftovers. They can be incorporated into a pilaf (with ground meat, cumin seed and raisins, for example), or soup, or casserole, or burritos, or just on the side of the plate. I love serving them with a little sour cream or plain whole yogurt, which adds a probiotic, fermented component to your dinner, tastes yummy, and helps the lentils stick to your fork. :)

If you like the pilaf idea, here is a great recipe for lentils with ground pork, which I found inspiring.

If you want to really go nuts, you can also sprout them and then lightly steam. Here are some ideas.

And finally, here is what WikiPedia has to say on the matter: Lentils.