Do not waste time by looking lentils over by handfuls, but put them into a large, flat colander, give them a shake or two to remove the fine dirt, slide them to one side of the colander, then with the fingers draw a few at a time toward you, looking for particles of sand or gravel. Pick these out but do not pay any attention to the wheat, chaff or poor lentils. Those will come out in the washing in much less time than it takes to pick them out and if a grain or two of wheat is left it will do no harm.
When you are sure all the gravel is out, set the colander into a dish pan and pour cold water over the lentils. Stir with the hand until all but the waste matter has settled to the bottom; then carefully pour the water off. Repeat the process until all objectionable substances are removed. Rinse the colander up and down in water, drain the lentils and put immediately into a large quantity of boiling water in a broad-bottomed vessel. (The shape of the utensil has much to do with the drying out without scorching.)
Let the lentils boil fast for a short time, then simmer without stirring. If they are stirred after they begin to soften they will scorch. Now keep the vessel over a slow, even fire until the lentils are well dried out. The drying may be finished in the oven if the dish is covered so the lentils will not become hard on the top. This drying is imperative. It develops a rich flavor that we do not get without it.
When well dried, add a little water and rub the lentils, a few at a time, through a fine colander with a potato masher. (Do not deceive yourself by thinking that you can get along faster by putting a large quantity into the colander at once.)
When all the lentils are through the colander (of course care should be taken to keep them hot during the process), add plenty of salt and beat until smooth and creamy. Keep hot in a double boiler, covered, till serving time. Beat again just before serving. Serve piled in rocky form or in smooth mound on hot platter (or in a hot covered dish if to be long on the table), with different garnishes; a wreath of celery tops, sprays of parsley or chervil, spinach leaves or cooked vegetables. Serve with sauce 16, 17, 53 or 54.
Do not be afraid of the simple dishes; they are the best.
Prepare dried green peas the same as mashed lentils. Serve with sauce 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 57 or 59.
Sauce 1, flavored or not, combines nicely with peas. Serve mashed peas and rice with sauce 16 sometimes.
1 tablespn. butter 1 teaspn. salt
Cook and mash beans according to directions for mashed lentils; add salt, and cream sauce made with butter, flour and milk; then eggs beaten. Turn into oiled baking dish, sprinkle with with crumbs, bake a delicate brown, serve at once. The eggs may be omitted but the beans are delightfully light with them.
Colored beans, peas and lentils may be prepared in the same way.
Spread a half-inch layer of mashed lentils on slightly moistened rounds of toast and place a nicely poached egg on each.