How to Buy & Cook Lentils

Making pea soup. Saucepan and wooden spoon with pea.

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Purchasing a quality lentil product ensures the legumes have the best flavor and stay fresh during storage longer. Unlike beans, lentils don't require soaking and they cook quickly, but overcooking them may cause them to become mushy. Cooked lentils have a nutty flavor and are a healthy addition to your diet since they are a protein source containing vitamins and minerals including thiamin, riboflavin, calcium and iron.

Buy lentils in clear packages so you can identify the quality. The lentils should have a bright uniform color; a dull color indicates lack of freshness. Look for lentils that are uniform in size since varied sizes result in uneven cooking times. Inspect the lentils for cracks or holes and avoid buying the package if you discover any damage.

Pour the lentils into a strainer and rinse them under cool running water until any sediment is washed away.

Place the lentils into a heavy pan.

Pour 1 1/2 cups of water for every 1 cup of lentils into the pan.

Set the pan on a stove-top burner set to medium heat.

Boil the water and reduce the heat to low.

Cover the pan with its lid.

Cook the lentils for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.