Super-Easy Guide to Cooking Canadian Lentils

Information from Gloria Tsang, RD, author of Go UnDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss and the founder of HealthCastle.com
Tools and tips to making cooking with lentils easy from Gloria Tsang, RD.

Lentils are a versatile, super-easy-to-prep ingredient! With a bit of experimenting, you will discover that lentils can transform everyday dishes into culinary delights. From appetizers to desserts, lentils not only add nutrition punch, but also texture variety other ingredients can’t match.

Buying Lentils

The lentils most commonly found in Canadian grocery stores are whole green lentils (also known as Laird-type lentils) and split red lentils. Pre-cooked lentils are typically canned, while dried lentils are sold in clear plastic packaging.

Storing Lentils

The best way to store dried lentils is to keep them tightly covered in a dry, dark, cool place. You can store them for up to a year after purchase. Canned lentils also store well in cool, dry places; they may also be stored up to one year.

No Soaking! Simple 1-2-3 Steps

Cooking lentils is super-easy! Unlike beans, lentils do not need pre-soaking at all.

The 1-2-3 Lentil Cooking Steps:

Step 1: Rinse lentils under running water.

Step 2: Boil (5 to 30 minutes, depending on lentil class and recipe)

Step 3: Season (optional)

Rule of thumb:

For 1 cup of dry lentils

Whole Lentils

Split Lentils

Soak

No

No

Water Needed

2½ to 3 cups

2 cups

Cooking Time

20 to 30 mins

5 to 15 mins

Final Yield

2½ cups cooked

2 cups cooked

For every cup of whole lentils, add 2½ cups of unsalted water. This will yield 2½ cups of cooked lentils. It’s important to use unsalted water, as salt hardens and toughens lentils.

Split lentils generally require less water and take less time to cook. For every cup of split lentils, add 2 cups of unsalted water. This will yield 2 cups of cooked lentils.

Easy Ways to Add Lentils to Your Everyday Cooking

  1. Add hearty element by adding wholesome lentils to any brothy soup.
  2. Prepare a delicate veggie dip by pureeing lentils, seasoned with citrus and nut butter.
  3. Add nutrition punch by mixing lentils into your salad.
  4. Enhance texture by adding lentils to your Asian stir-fries.
  5. Add lentils to fillings for tacos or quesadillas.
  6. Add color to your pot of curry or stew by adding red lentils.

Experiment with Lentils in Your Everyday Dishes

Vary Boiling Times

Canadian lentils add intricate texture to a variety of dishes. If you desire a firmer texture, as when adding lentils to a salad dish, you can boil them for a shorter time (20 minutes for whole or 5 minutes for split). Alternately, if you desire a softer texture, Canadian lentils can be boiled for a lengthy period of time without getting mushy. They even come out nicely in a stew or soup after hours in a slow cooker!

Pre-Cook Lentils

Enjoy the convenience by using pre-cooked, canned lentils. You can always pre-cook lentils yourself! Since adding lentils to dishes is a great way of boosting nutritional punch, a time-saving tip to using whole green lentils is to prepare them ahead of time!

Instructions:

  1. Rinse whole green lentils under running water, then boil them using the 1:2½ lentil:water ratio for about 20 minutes.
  2. Divide up the batch and portion the lentils into one-cup servings, then store these cooked lentils in a freezer container or a bag for later use.
  3. To thaw, simply move a pre-portioned container from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before.

Puree Lentils

Lentil puree is a great addition to your baked goods to boost moisture, protein, fibre, and overall nutrition value.

Instructions:

  1. Place cooked lentils in a food processor. For every cup of cooked lentils, add ¼ cup water. Alternately, you can use a potato masher.
  2. Blend or mash to make a smooth puree with a consistency like canned pumpkin.
  3. Add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time if more moisture is needed.
  4. Puree can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 to 4 days, or kept frozen for up to 3 months.

Experiment with our bakery recipes using lentil puree:

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