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Rinse dried legumes well and pick over and discard any debris or shriveled pieces.
Dried beans are best to cook after soaking overnight in a bowl of water on the counter, but lentils and split peas do not need to soak at all. You can pressure cook dried beans without soaking, but there is a greater chance they will break.
If soaking, drain the water, rinse, and transfer the soaked legumes to a large saucepan. Cover with at least two inches of water and add a pinch of salt.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer partially covered with a lid until tender. Stir every so often and add more water if needed.
Use immediately or cool and store for later.