Lentils require only a few simple steps to prepare them for cooking. Follow the preparation steps below.
- Spread lentils out in a single layer on a white kitchen towel or a light colored work surface. Check for and discard any dirt, tiny stones, and damage lentils.
- After checking through the lentils, place them in a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
- They are ready to cook after rinsing. The lentils do not require soaking before cooking.
Lentils must not be overcooked or they will become soft and mushy. Different varieties require different cooking times.
- Use 1 1/2 cups of water or broth to 1 cup of lentils.
- Add water or broth to a saucepan and if desired add flavorings, such as herbs, garlic, and onions. Do not add salt until the lentils are cook because the salt will toughen them if added at the beginning of the cooking time.
- Bring water or broth to a boil and add the lentils. Boil for 2 or 3 minutes and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tender. Cook green and brown lentils for approximately 45 minutes and red lentils for 25 minutes.
- Be sure to start taste testing the lentils for desired tenderness 10 to 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Do not overcook or they will become mushy.
- If adding lentils to a salad or if you desire a firmer textured lentil in your soup or stew, only cook them until they have a tender but firm texture.
- If cooking to use in a puree, cook until soft.
- Cooking times will also vary depending on the age of the lentils, which affects their moisture content.
When using packaged lentils, be sure to check for tenderness before the end of the suggested cooking time. Most suggested cooking times are longer than necessary and could cause the lentils to become mushy.