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.