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How to Steam French Lentils + Lemon Lentils Recipe

This summer I had the pleasure of visiting the farm in Saskatchewan where we at GRAIN {the company I co-founded with my best friend Janna Bishop} source our incredible French Lentils. Since we started the company 4 years ago, French Lentils have been such a popular item due to the amazing texture of the ones we are able to source directly from the farm. Will Robbins is a second generation organic farmer who runs the Maida Vale Organic Farm his parents have farmed for over 30 years. Will is a complete and perfect example of why we started doing this work. As Canadian farmers get older, it's imperative for the future of our food security that younger farmers take up the heroic work of stewarding the land and growing our food. In the case of Canadian prairie farmers, this also happens to be the world's food ~ as Canada is one of the world's largest exporters of grain and bean crops. They are definitely revered as growing the world's finest grain and bean crops. I can't tell you how proud I am to be able to make this product available to consumers.

Since I pretty much live on lentils, I thought I'd share once and for all the easiest way I've ever found to enjoy French Lentils for salads. I find they are best eaten lightly steamed, and the beauty of the ones we source from the Robbins farm is that they are fresh, meaning they cook very quickly after a little soaking. The end result is a perfectly tender and exquisitely textured little legume that is much easier on the tummy than beans or lentils that have sat drying out in storehouses for too many years. Honestly, I've made these Lemon Lentils so many times in the past few months, I figured it was time to share a real recipe, which to me is hardly a recipe, but the results of this lemon infusion are just so easy and SO GOOD! Enjoy as is or added to salads or even to top a baked potato with.

How to Soak & Steam Lentils

1) Soak: For this recipe, soak 1 cup of dry GRAIN French Lentils in plenty of cold water to cover for 4-24 hours. You can leave the lentils on the countertop, at room temperature. The idea is to soak them in the morning to cook at night or soak at night for cooking in the morning; however you choose to do it, make sure it works for you. The soaking time window is totally flexible, just try to keep the soak time to a minimum of 6 hours and no longer than 24 hours.

2) Steam: When ready to cook, drain the lentils in a colander and rinse with cold water. Prepare a basic vegetable steaming basket in a saucepan and add water to just reach the bottom of the steamer basket. Add the soaked and rinsed lentils to the basket and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bring the water to a boil and keep the heat on medium-high ~ steam the lentils for 12-15 minutes, checking until the lentils are just tender to the touch (you should be able to just squish a cooked lentil between your fingers). Be careful not to overcook! This is key. Overcooked French Lentils will easily be a bit mushy so it's key to keep an eye on the timer here.

3) Dress: When cooked, remove the steamer basket carefully from the pot {I use a tea towel in both hands and grab each side and pull it from the pot}. Quickly remove the steamer with the hot lentils and place the lentils in a mixing bowl. From here you can allow cooling for use as you wish, or you can dress with olive oil, salt, and your choice of vinegar {red wine is very nice}. The hot lentils will absorb the oil and the vinegar while they cool creating a very tasty addition to anything you want to use them for.

Lemon Lentils

  • 1 cup dry French Lentils, soaked and steamed
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3-1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 green onions, sliced (greens only)
  • 1-2 tsp grated fresh lemon zest
  • freshly ground black pepper as desired

To make the Lemon Lentils, prepare 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice while the lentils steam. I have also made this recipe with bottled lemon juice and it is delicious. Immediately after removing the hot steamed lentils from the pot, add 3-4 tbsp olive oil, and the full half cup of lemon juice. This will look like a lot but trust me the lentils soak it all up! Add the 1/2 tsp of salt and stir the entire mixture well. Allow to cool on the countertop for one hour at room temperature {do not cover}; this will allow the lentils to cool and absorb the liquid from the lemon juice and olive oil. At this point, you can refrigerate overnight, or until you plan to eat them. Before serving, chop up 2 scallions {greens only} and add to the bowl with the lemon zest. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper if desired.

If you find the lemon too much, you can adjust accordingly to 1/4 cup or 1/3 cup. I love the bright flavour here and fresh lemon juice is so good for your immune system at this time of year!

This recipe was originally published on, all photos are on my own. Kindly do not publish this recipe or share photos without permission.

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