Technique: An easy way to sort lentils
Jan 24, 2013
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Yes, we are talking about lentils. Chocolate will be on the docket again soon enough…
It may seem like a step you can skip, sorting through the lentils before cooking them. But once you discover that not all that is lentil is in the bag of lentils, the sorting step will never be skipped again.
I used to pour lentils into a colander and run my hand through them to see what was what. It wasn’t effective. Frances, my culinary school teacher, taught us to spread them out on a sheet pan, a simple but brilliant way that makes very swift, and above all accurate, work of picking out anything that is not lentil from the bunch. It might be a tiny stone, or some small grains, that you want to get rid of. There typically isn’t much of this, but usually something, and that something makes the task necessary and worthwhile.
Spread the lentils out evenly on the sheet pan by giving the pan a good shake from side to side. The lentils sound like rainfall and look remarkably perfect, a nice bonus without any OCD painstaking. My sort rule is to remove anything that isn’t the shape and color of the lentils, even if it might just be a misshapen lentil. With the French green lentils, some are split and yellow inside; those I recognize and allow them to stay with the team.
The process takes about a minute, and when you’re done the sheet pan is still clean and can go right back where it came from. Easy!