Lentils are actually edible seeds and are part of the legume family. There are a number of varieties: brown, green, puy, yellow, red, and beluga. Each type of lentil offers its own variation of nutrients, such as antioxidants and phytochemicals, but they are all an excellent source of protein, folate, iron, and fiber, among other vitamins and minerals.

Buying and storing

When buying dried lentils, look for bright colored lentils with a uniform size and smooth skins and without chips or shriveled skin.

Store in an unopened package or air-tight container in a cool, dark, dry place. Cooked lentils store well for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer.

Preparing and Cooking

Lentils do not require soaking. To prepare for cooking, just remove any shriveled or broken seeds, dried soil, or pebbles, then place in a strainer and rinse.


Combine 1 cup dried lentils with 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a rapid boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently. Cook uncovered for about 20-30 minutes. Add water as needed to make sure lentils are just barely covered. Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy. Drain well.

Ways to enjoy

Lentils are versatile. They can be used in a variety of soups, salads, casseroles, and desserts.

  • Mix cooked lentils into salad.
  • Make lentil soup: Saut√© 1 diced onion and 1 sliced carrot in 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Add 4 cups vegetable broth, 1 cup dry lentils, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, and a dash of salt. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 45 minutes. Stir in 1 Tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Lentils can replace ground beef in many recipes, such as taco filling, sloppy joes, and pasta sauce.
  • Make lentil hummus: In a food processor, add 2 cups cooked lentils, 1 cup cooked or canned and dried and drained garbanzo beans, 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, 1 clove crushed garlic, salt, and pepper. Pulse several times until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides then process on low, adding 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil slowly while the motor is running. Chill hummus in a bowl or container for at least 1 hour. Serve with veggie sticks or add to sandwiches.

Featured Recipes

Lentil Patties

Blend cooked lentils, egg, and onion salt.Heat oil in frying pan on medium heat.Drop lentil mixture by tablespoonfuls into frying pan. Pressflat and cook over medium heat. Flip to cook other side.

lentil patties

Lentil Hummus

Place the lentils in saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are soft and mushy. Drain the lentils. Set aside for about 20 minutes to cool.Place the lentils, garbanzo beans, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse several times until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn on the processor and slowly add the olive oil while the motor is running. Add enough olive oil to get desired consistency. If hummus is too thick after adding 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, blend in water, adding 1 Tablespoon at a time.Put hummus in a bowl or container. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Hummus will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

 lentil hummus