Description: Food Network Kitchen's Perfect Lentils. Keywords: Lentils, Onion, Garlic, Bay Leaf, Black Pepper, Salt
Recipe courtesy of Maya Ferrante for Food Network Kitchen

Perfect Lentils

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 5 min
  • Yield: 3 cups
Lentils don’t require soaking like other dried legumes, making them ideal for an easy weeknight meal or pantry cleanout dish. The key to tender and intact (not mushy) lentils is to cook them at a gentle simmer -- and resist the urge to stir! The following method works equally well for green, French Le Puy, brown or beluga lentils. But it’s not a good match for red and yellow lentils, which usually come split and cook faster.



  1. Place the lentils, onion, garlic and bay leaf in a medium saucepan and cover with about 3 inches of cold water (see Cook’s Note). Bring to a medium boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and very gently simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, about 22 to 26 minutes. Discard the onion, garlic and bay leaf and then drain the lentils. Season with salt and pepper and serve as a simple side dish. Or refrigerate them unseasoned to keep on hand for topping salads or folding into rice for an easy pilaf.
  2. Serving Suggestion:
  3. Cook 1/3 cup each of small-diced carrots, celery and onions in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Gently fold the vegetables into the cooked lentils along with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt.

Cook’s Note

Add flavor by substituting vegetable or chicken broth for the water or simmering the lentils with fresh herbs, such as thyme, oregano or dill.