When I make lentils, Margaret yells, “goody!”
I can’t make this stuff up, people. This is for real.
A bag of lentils costs less than $1 at Walmart. It may take you a while to find them, but don’t give up. You may also find them in the specialty mexican foods section of your local grocery store. They bury them on the dusty bottom shelf of beans and rice at Kroger. What a sad place for a food that should be celebrated.
I simmer a pot of lentils for at least 45 minutes to an hour, but I believe I have cooked them in a shorter time frame than that. They don’t need to be soaked.
So, here is how you do it.
Open the bag. Rinse them in a strainer if you so desire. Fill a big pot with water. Pour the lentils in the pot. Simmer until they are tender. You may ask, how much should I cook? Honestly, I just can’t guess for you. But at $1 a bag, you could take the risk and make the whole bag and just end up with leftovers. I would think that a one cup serving of dried lentils would make sufficient servings for two adults.
Drain off a little water, or a lot of water, depending on how you like to serve them.
Voila! Please be glad I told you how to cook lentils, even though it is the easiest food in the world to cook. I went into an Indian market one day and eagerly asked a lady “How should I cook these?” She just looked at me with the most piteous concern. I don’t think it had ever occurred to her than a woman would not know what to do with lentils. In many parts of the world, lentils are a daily staple.
We love to have lentils served over cornbread. Top with a tangy sauce of sour cream or ranch dressing. Grate a little cheddar on top. Add spice if you like, and of course, salt and pepper. We had some cilantro to garnish ours. Oh, man, do I love cilantro on lentils. I had it again as leftovers for lunch today. Ummm, Ummmmm. I have never found that my lentils needed ham or sausage. They have wonderful flavor.
What do lentils taste like? They have a great bean flavor with a hint of pepper. There are many different varieties of lentils, some cook up tenderly and fall apart easily. Others will hold their shape a bit better. The ones I find at the grocery store are the olive green color. I have also found some pretty orange/red varieties at Indian food markets. The kids thought those were candy when I brought them home because of the color–but when they cook up they turn a soft pale shade.
The cost: $1 for lentils. .33 for cornbread. Then add some spare change for condiments. The total is easily under $3 and this meal will feed our 8, plus sometimes have leftovers for lunch.