To cook. First check lentils for debris; then rinse thoroughly. Put in a pot with plenty of water (toss in chopped onion, bay leaf, garlic, or carrot if you like), bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender but retaining a bit of bite, 20–40 minutes. Drain, saving the broth for another use; season with salt and pepper.
Salad. Toss together cooked lentils; canned, drained, and flaked salmon; diced red bell pepper and red onion; chopped parsley; and lemon-dill vinaigrette. Serve in butter-lettuce cups.
Meat loaf. Instead of bread crumbs, mix half a cup of cooked, partly mashed black, brown, or green lentils into your regular meat-loaf recipe.
Dal. For a simple take on this Indian dish, mix cooked yellow or red lentils with premade red curry sauce, chopped fresh tomatoes, slivered onions, and cayenne pepper to taste. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro; serve with basmati rice.
Braised Le Puy lentils with Chard. This classic preparation pairs well with meats or stands on its own as a light supper with a green salad. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ½ diced yellow onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add 1 diced celery stalk, 1 diced carrot, and 3 minced garlic cloves; cook 3 minutes. Add 1½ cups Le Puy (green) lentils; stir to coat. Add 3 cups broth, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt. Top lentils with 2 cups packed sliced chard leaves, cover, and cook until wilted, 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve, sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese. Serves 4–6.
Lemony Red Lentil Soup with Chard
Serves 8 / When it comes to powerful proteins, you really can’t beat beans and legumes. They contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants called flavonoids, which are also found in tea, red wine, and cocoa. In addition to the antioxidant lentils, this recipe features kombu, a sea vegetable, which contributes valuable minerals like magnesium. View Recipe
Lentil, Mushroom, and Spinach Stew
Serves 6 / Grayish-green French lentils stay firm when cooked; red lentils cook quickly but can lose their texture; and brown (often with a greenish cast and simply labeled “lentils”) soften but retain texture when cooked. View Recipe
Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
Serves 4 / Smooth, whole-milk yogurt softens the spices in this fragrant, colorful dish. Prep tip: If you like things really spicy, double the amount of curry and cumin. Serving tips: Serve as a side with grilled fish and brown basmati rice; or increase the liquid and transform it into a flavorful soup. View Recipe
Lentil Burgers With Herbed Chevre Sauce
Serves 10-12 / The best of the burgers. Serve on burger rolls with all the trimmings. Try one of the mock mayonnaises as a topping or vata-balancing Herbed Chevre Sauce. View Recipe
Green Lentils and Seasoned Walnuts
Serves 4 / Ingredient tip: Lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber. The best, most delicate lentils are the lovely peppery French green lentils used here; because they take a bit longer to cook than other lentils (about 30 minutes) but hold their shape well, cook them in advance and chill, adding salt at the end of cooking. Use ¾ cup dried lentils to yield 1½ cups cooked. View recipe
Red Lentil Dal
Serves 8 / One serving of this easy, flavorful dish provides about a fourth of your daily fiber needs. Serving tips: Try this over steamed brown rice, or in a bowl with whole-grain bread for dipping. View Recipe