Cooking lentils: are you avoiding it because it seems like a boring food to you? Think again! Lentils aren't just a nutritious ingredient, but also a versatile one because they easily absorb all the flavors from other foods and seasonings.
Lentils are edible pulses which grow in pods, like beans. They come in brown, green, red, yellow, black, and all shades in between. They have a high content of protein and fiber, which means you should eat lentils often, especially if you’re a vegetarian. But cooking lentils is not just for vegetarians! Everybody should consider eating this easy-to-prepare, versatile, and nutritious food.
Compared to other types of dried beans, lentils are relatively quick and easy to cook. Think about soups, stews, salads, and dips - there are so many amazing dishes you can make with lentils because they easily absorb the flavors they're cooked with. Need more reasons for cooking lentils? How about the fact that they’re available year-round and quite affordable?
How to make cooking lentils an easy task
The first time I cooked lentils, I spent about 2 hours boiling them on the stove. But that was a mistake because it was not how it should be done. Especially since I had bought a cheap bag of old lentils. So you should buy the freshest lentils possible.
In fact, cooking lentils don’t take much time if you know how to do it. You can cook them on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker. For 1 cup of lentils, the amount of water you need depends on your cooking method.
On the stovetop, you should bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil, then add your lentils. Bring the water back to a boil and simmer for 20-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils absorb the water and become soft. Check your lentils occasionally, to make sure they aren't too dry and, if necessary, add up to an extra 1/2 cup of water. Don’t add salt, lemon, or vinegar from the beginning! Adding salt or an acidic ingredient too early in the cooking process can prevent the pulses from reaching their peak tenderness.
In the pressure cooker, you should combine the lentils with 2 1/4 cups of water. Then, cook on high pressure for 10 to 15 minutes with a natural release (for brown and green lentils). If you want to avoid overcooking them, keep in mind that red and yellow lentils only need 6 minutes at high pressure.
Pay attention! Before adding the lentils to the cooking pot, pick them over for stones or pieces of straw, then rinse them in a colander.
5 lentil recipe ideas
I like lentil soup, but there are many more ways you can include this nourishing food into your diet. You can add lentils to tacos, salads, stews, or simply serve them seasoned and topped with a poached egg. Below are our favorite ways to make them a meal.
This is a savory, vegetarian-friendly soup, just perfect for those of you trying to eat healthily. It’s a fusion of Middle-Eastern and Thai cuisine, and that means an explosion of flavors. It’s easy to make and ready in one hour.
A lentil salad may not seem the most appealing thing in the world. But lentils absorb all the flavors they touch. To make it tastier, we've added a bit of fried bacon and flavored it with some herbs like sage, rosemary, and parsley.
To make it even better, you can combine red lentil with couscous and cook it in vegetable stock. Serve this mix as a side for some salmon marinated in red wine vinegar, honey, and crushed garlic.
How about some ‘meatballs’ using the same lentil-couscous mix? If you like Middle-Eastern cuisine, try this amazing snack! You can add some mushrooms and onion to the mix, and serve them in a rich tomato sauce.
If you enjoy Indian cuisine as much as we do, then you will surely enjoy lentil curry spiced with ginger, coriander, and turmeric. Curry is traditionally served with rice, which you can cook in a simple way because the curry has all the spice you will need.
You may also want to read Why You Should Give Good Carbs a Chance.