Simple Basic Lentil Recipe

How To Cook Lentils Soft on the Inside, Firm on the Outside

Basic Brown Lentils

By Judith Kingsbury

This recipe is for regular lentils, small brown lentils, or green French lentils, that you want to stay intact, not Indian dhals or split green or yellow peas, which are best cooked to mush.

The secret of successfully cooking lentils intact, not mushy or falling apart, is to soak them in a salty brine, then cook with a pinch of salt, and|or a strip of kombu seaweed. I learned that trick from Cooks Illustrated, my favorite cooking magazine.

It's all right to cook lentils without soaking & salting. They'll take longer to cook, and will be mushier than with the soak & salt method.

Total Prep & Cook Time: 2 - 6 Hours

Yield: 2 1/2 - 3 cups cooked lentils or 6 Servings

Nutrition Data, 1 cup raw lentils: 678 cal, 2g fat, 115g carb, 12mg sodium, 59g fiber, 50g protein, low Cholesterol, good source Folate, Thiamin, Iron, Phosphorus Manganese. Estimated glycemic load: 31

Lentil Cooking Ingredients

  • 1 c. dried brown lentils or small green french lentils
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Optional: 1 inch strip dried kombu seaweed

Lentil Cooking Directions

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  1. Wash and drain the lentils
  2. Soak the lentils in 6 cups cold water + 1/2 tsp salt, for 4 - 6 hours, until they've doubled in size. Reduce the soaking time to 1 hour by starting with boiling hot water.
  3. Drain and rinse the soaked lentils
  4. Add kombu strip to a medium saucepan, then the lentils, then cold water just to the top of the lentils
  5. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes,or until the lentils are still firm but soft enough to eat, and with their skins intact. Cook for 5 - 10 more minutes if they are still crunchy
  6. Cool quickly by plunging the pan into a sink full of cold water
  7. Pressure Cooker: Add kombu, soaked lentils, salt and water to a pressure cooker. Lock down lid and bring up to high pressure. Lower heat and cook for 6 minutes. Use natural pressure release.
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Lentil Cooking Tips

Lentils cooked this way are ideal for dishes such as Green Brown Quinoa Lentil Salad, or Brown Lentil, Quinoa, Vegetable Casserole

When adding lentils to a soup or stew: If you add them in the beginning of cooking, they'll get softer (mushier) and absorb the flavors of the other ingredients. If you don't want that, add lentils at the end of cooking, and they'll keep their shape and firmness

It's always worthwhile to double the recipe, and freeze lentils in small containers or freezer bags for future salads or soups

Sprouting makes lentils even more digestible, nourishing and delicious. And makes it possible to eat them raw.

To sprout lentils: Soak 1/2 - 1 cup lentils overnight in a 1 - 2 quart glass jar, then rinse and drain. Cover the top of the jar with a piece of old dishtowel secured with a rubber band, or a fine mesh sprouting screen.

Place the jar of soaked and rinsed lentils in a cool dark spot, with the mouth of the jar tilted downward and the lentils distributed evenly in the jar. Rinse 2 or 3 times a day. When tails begin to appear, sprouting is done. Sprouts are most nutritious when just barely sprouted.

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