Friday, March 26, 2010

Lentils: A Primer

I admit: I've never cooked with lentils. How I got through a year of volunteering without ever learning how, I'll never know. Not long ago I picked up some beautiful golden-orange lentils at Seward on a whim. Then, the good people at A Grain a Day posted a recipe for faux sloppy joes, using lentils! I tried it the other night with some success.

First, I consulted the cooking Bible, a.k.a. Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, for instructions on how to cook lentils. Let's just say that either I did something wrong or this is one of the
few instances in which Bittman is off base. I poured the lentils in a saucepan, covering them with a couple of inches of water. Then I set them to boil (covered), stepped out of the kitchen for a few minutes, and returned to find them boiling over! This only incited small flames from my gas range... lovely. The second time I've almost started a fire in my kitchen. I stirred them, lowered the heat, and vented the lid - per Bittman. I continued cooking them for about 10 minutes, then stirred to check. They were definitely DONE, and a lot of water remained in the pot. I tried to drain them, but that didn't work very well.

Satisfied enough with the lentils, I proceeded with the rest of the recipe. Very tasty! Mine turned out a little more mushy than real meat sloppy-joes would be, but I don't mind a little mush now and then.

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