1 cup dried green or brown lentils
2 cups water
1 bay leaf, garlic clove, or other seasonings (optional)
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
Place the lentils in a strainer or colander. Pick over and remove any shriveled lentils, debris, or rocks. Thoroughly rinse under running water. Some people don’t soak their lentils, but I think the extra step it worth it. See below why I say this. Transfer the rinsed lentils to a small saucepan and add the water. Add any seasonings being used, but do not add the salt yet.
Bring to a rapid simmer, then reduce heat. Bring the water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. You should only see a few small bubbles and some slight movement in the lentils.
Simmer the lentils. Simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes. Add more water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered.
Salt the lentils. Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy. Older lentils may take longer to cook and shed their outer skins as they cook. Strain the lentils and remove the bay leaf, if used. Return the lentils to the pan and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Season them with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and herbs if desired.
Good to Know:
The outer shell of lentils contains anti-nutrients that can interfere with digestion. If you soak them, you will neutralize the anti-nutrients and improve digestion. Larger beans sometimes require up to 24 hours of soaking, but lentils are small enough that two to four hours should suffice. I usually soak mine overnight because that is most convenient for my schedule.