Technique: An easy way to sort lentils

Lentils sheet pan POST

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!

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7 Comments

  1. Tlazolteotl on January 24, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    haha, cool!
    Let me know if you find a gold nudget 😀

  2. Lenita Richardson on October 26, 2015 at 12:15 PM

    I found your page on the first try after keying in”how to sort lentils” on Google. This is such a great idea! Thanks for posting!

  3. Lenita Richardson on October 26, 2015 at 12:16 PM

    What a wonderfully simple idea! Thanks for posting! 🙂

  4. Kira on January 25, 2017 at 12:44 AM

    Are the lentils supposed to be dry or wet when you spread them out? How is the pan still clean? Germs count!

    • Maureen Abood on January 27, 2017 at 10:35 AM

      Hi Kira–yes, the lentils are dry when you sort them!

  5. Judy on January 9, 2022 at 11:37 AM

    I have been doing this – yes, stones are found. My favorite lentil is the Pardinas lentil. Taste best and the shell is very digestible.

    • Maureen Abood on January 10, 2022 at 9:42 AM

      Beautiful pardinas lentils! Thank you Judy for the note.

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I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!

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