Simple legume is a canvas for creativity
Smart choice: A good cook loves lentils for their variety of textures and colors — black, pink, red, green and more — good nutrition, ease of cooking and easy-to-swallow prices. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
• Pink lentils: Brown lentils with skin removed. Turn yellow with cooking.
• Red lentils: Turn golden when cooked.
• Yellow lentils: May have skin on or off.
• White lentils: Skinned and split black lentils.
Sources: "The Cook's Thesaurus," "Vegetables," James Peterson
Cooking up lentils
There are many recipes and tips for prepping and cooking lentils, as well as ways to serve them, whether on their own, in tandem with grains or accompanied by meat or fish.
In "Vegan Indian Cooking," Anupy Singla, a Chicago food writer and cooking teacher, offers some guidance. Here are a few drawn from the book:
Sort before cooking: Singla suggests placing lentils by cupfuls on a white plate, then sorting to remove foreign matter (stones, sticks).
Rinse before cooking: Place them in a sieve, rinse with water, drain.
Storage, cooked: Refrigerate cooked lentils for about three days; store in the freezer up to three months.
Reheat: In a saucepan, heat slowly. Add water if needed; check salt before serving. Can be warmed in the microwave.
Storage, uncooked: In a cool, dark, dry place, ideally in glass containers.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Note: This classic preparation of lentilles tiedes is adapted from Michael Roberts' "Parisian Home Cooking." Serve these as a first course or alongside slices of roast pork or ham.