1 cup dried lentils, preferably smaller red, yellow, black beluga or French du Puy
Safflower oil, olive oil or grapeseed oil, for frying
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Put the lentils in a bowl with water to cover. Soak for 1 hour.
Drain the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer, shaking out as much excess water as you can, then lay them out on absorbent towels in a single layer to dry. (Gently shake the lentils around a bit from time to time to help speed up the drying.)
Set a paper-towel-lined plate and a slotted spoon by the stove. Pour the oil to a depth of ¼ inch in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a lentil on contact, carefully add just enough lentils to form a single layer. Fry, stirring occasionally, until they are crisp and become slightly translucent around the edges, 5 to 6 minutes. (Red lentils will turn yellow; French du Puy lentils will turn brown.)
Use the slotted spoon to lift out the lentils in batches, holding and slightly tilting each scoop over the pan to let the oil drain off, then transfer them to the lined plate. Salt lightly.
Repeat with the remaining lentils, being sure to wait until the oil is instant-sizzle-hot before adding the lentils. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cook's note: This recipe turns lentils into something more like nuts: crunchy and addictive as a snack, but also good on salads and grains and, as cookbook author Mollie Katzen suggests, layered between beets and yogurt in a savory parfait.
Nutrition values per tablespoon: 40 calories, (1 g fat (0 saturated) 5 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 0 sugar, 2 g protein, 0 cholesterol, 15 mg sodium.
Adapted from "The Heart of the Plate" by Mollie Katzen (Houghton Mifflin, 2013)