Lentils are a versatile and delicious ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and side dishes. However, cooking with lentils can be a bit tricky, as they require just the right amount of time and liquid to reach their perfect tenderness without turning mushy. One of my favorite dishes to make is The Best Lentil Soup Recipe! If you make double batches of soup or casserole, you should try these Souper Cubes!
You may also want to check out Lentils: Everything You Need to Know. Here are some tips on how to cook lentils perfectly:
Rinse the Lentils
Before cooking your lentils, rinse them thoroughly in cold water to remove any dirt or debris. This step is necessary to ensure that your lentils are clean and free from any unwanted particles. Rinsing your lentils will also help them cook evenly and prevent clumping.
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Choose the Right Pot
When cooking lentils, it’s important to choose the right pot to ensure that they cook evenly and don’t stick to the bottom. A heavy-bottomed pot is ideal for this purpose, as it helps distribute heat evenly and prevents scorching. The Top Survival Kitchen Cooking Essentials
Add Plenty of Liquid
Lentils need plenty of liquid to cook properly, so be sure to add enough water or broth to cover them completely. A good rule of thumb is to use three cups of liquid for every cup of lentils. If you’re using red lentils, you may need a bit less liquid, as they cook faster than other varieties.
Bring to a Boil, then Simmer
To cook lentils, start by bringing the liquid to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and let the lentils cook until tender. This usually takes about 20-30 minutes depending on the variety of lentils you’re using.
Be careful not to overcook your lentils, as they can quickly turn mushy and lose their texture. Check your lentils regularly while they’re cooking to make sure they’re not getting too soft. Lentils should be tender but still hold their shape.
Add Flavorful Ingredients
Lentils have a mild earthy flavor on their own, so it’s a good idea to add some flavorful ingredients to enhance their taste. Garlic, onion, bay leaves, and fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary are all great additions. Just be sure not to add salt or acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar too early in the cooking process, as they can prevent the lentils from reaching their peak tenderness. 33 Essential Spices I Recommend Stocking Up On
Let Them Rest
Once your lentils are cooked, remove them from the heat and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. This will allow the lentils to absorb any remaining liquid and will help them develop a richer flavor.
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Do I need to soak lentils before cooking them?
No, there’s no need to soak lentils before cooking them. They cook relatively quickly compared to other legumes and don’t require pre-soaking. Lentils are known as “dal” in certain cultures. Dal refers to dried lentils, often called split pulses, like peas and various bean varieties, that don’t require soaking prior to them being cooked.
Lentils come in two main types from the store, canned and dried. We generally use dried lentils when preparing soups, stews, and some salads and sides. The canned varieties are great when you want a quick solution for some salads and side dishes.
How much liquid do I need to cook lentils?
A good rule of thumb is to use three cups of liquid for every cup of lentils. However, this can vary depending on the variety of lentils you’re using and how you plan to use them in your recipe.
How long does it take to cook lentils?
The cooking time can vary depending on the variety of lentils you’re using and how old they are. Generally, it takes about 20-30 minutes to cook lentils until they’re tender but still hold their shape.
Can I cook lentils in a slow cooker?
Yes, lentils can be cooked in a slow cooker. Just be sure to add enough liquid to cover the lentils and cook them on low for several hours until they’re tender.
What’s the best way to store cooked lentils?
Cooked lentils can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or frozen for up to three months.
Can I freeze cooked lentils?
Yes, cooked lentils can be frozen for up to three months. Be sure to let them cool completely before transferring them to an airtight container or freezer bag.
What types of lentils are there?
There are a number of different types of lentils. The most common types of lentils are green lentils, brown lentils, yellow lentils, and black lentils. There is a variety called Puy lentils, often called French green lentils, that were originally grown in Puy, France which is known for its rich volcanic soil. They are now grown in both Italy and North America. They are well known for having a peppery flavor and they tend to retain their firmness when being prepared.
What are some of the health benefits of eating lentils?
Some of the health benefits of eating lentils are:
- They positively support your digestion. They come rich in prebiotic fiber that helps boost the beneficial gut bacteria we all need. Fiber in your diet has been shown to help reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer.
- Lentils are healthy for your heart. Again, the fiber in lentils, along with folate and potassium, help to manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Certain chronic disease risks are reduced when eating lentils. Things like diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease are affected by the content of phenols in the lentils. These phenols are known for their antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects on your body.
- Lentils are not a vegetable, but as a legume like beans and peanuts, they have a low glycaemic index and thus are helpful in managing your blood sugar levels.
- They are also a rich source of plant protein which makes them a good option if you’re trying to eat less meat and fish. People who are trying to follow a more vegan-oriented diet should certainly consider lentils in their meal plans.
- Lentils are a great source of B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, the nutrients we all need to stay as healthy as possible.
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Cooking with lentils is something that many of us will get very familiar with soon! When I was a child, we ate so many lentils because they were cheap and super easy to make. I know that so many of us are tightening our budget thanks to the economy. Leave your favorite lentil or bean recipes below so I can share them with my readers!
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