Basic Lentils

This simple recipe works for any type of lentil. Try presoaking the lentils, which makes them easier to digest and increases nutrient availability.

Basic Lentils

Makes: 2 to 2  1/2 cups cooked lentils, or about eight servings
Prep time: five minutes
Cook time: 10 to 20 minutes, depending on variety


  • 1 cup lentils of your choice, rinsed well, and soaked if desired
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • Water
  • Lemon juice


  • Put the lentils, garlic, bay leaf, and salt in a saucepan, and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then decrease the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the lentils are tender (see table at left for specific cooking times). Remove from the heat, drain completely, and discard the garlic and bay leaf. Spritz with a bit of lemon juice and let cool to room temperature.

Tip: Presoaking dried lentils makes them easier to digest and increases nutrient availability. Rinse, then soak in 4 cups of hot water plus 1 teaspoon of salt for 30 to 60 minutes; rinse again before cooking.

Why No Numbers?

Readers sometimes ask us why we don’t publish nutrition information with our recipes. We believe that (barring specific medical advice to the contrary) if you’re eating primarily whole, healthy foods — an array of sustainably raised vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, meats, fish, eggs, whole-kernel grains, and healthy fats and oils — you probably don’t need to stress about the numbers. We prefer to focus on food quality and trust our bodies to tell us what we need.  — The Editors

is the director of the Healing Kitchens Institute at Commonweal. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Longevity Kitchen, published by Ten Speed Press, Penguin Random House LLC, where some of these recipes originally appeared. She lives in San Rafael, Calif.

Photography by Andrea D'Agosto; Prop Styling by Alicia Buszczak; Food Styling by Paul Jackman

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