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Basic Lentils

(recipe, Helen Rennie)

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Lentils are as versatile as rice and potatoes, but with the added benefit of fiber and protein. They make a wonderful side dish for any meat, sausage, duck, or salmon (or other fatty fish). Once cooked and drained, they can be warmed up in a pan with a little butter or olive oil.


  1. 1 cup dry du Puy lentils (also known as “French green”)
  2. 3 cups cold water
  3. Bay leaf (optional)
  4. A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme (optional)
  5. 2 tsp. kosher salt
  6. 1 Tbsp. dry white wine


  1. Rinse the lentils in a sieve with cold running water. Put them in a heavy pot and cover with 3 cups cold water. Add bay leaf and herbs if using. Do not cover the pot. Set it over high heat and bring to a boil. Watch the lentils carefully. The moment the water starts boiling, turn down the heat to low.
  2. Regulate the heat so that the liquid barely moves and a small quiver breaks the surface about every 5 seconds. (This is even slower than “simmering” in the traditional sense of the word.) The cooking time will vary between 18 and 30 minutes and will depend on the age of the lentils and the shape of the pot. Taste the lentils 18 minutes after the water comes to a boil. They are done when the texture resembles that of cooked barley or brown rice. If the lentils need more cooking, taste them every 2 minutes.
  3. As soon as the lentils are done, take them off the heat. Add the salt and wine. Let the lentils rest at least 20 minutes after cooking. Discard bay leaf and herbs.
  4. At this stage, you can cool the lentils completely, cover, and refrigerate for up to 4 days. I find that the lentils taste even better when they sit in the fridge overnight in their cooking liquid. You can use lentils with their cooking liquid for soups and stews or drain them to use as a side dish or salad.


This recipe comes from Helen Rennie's article about lentils.