Lentils

Lentils.  I love them.  Not love like coffee or chocolate, but enjoy.  They are hearty, earthy and flavorful.  They require no pre-soaking like beans of all names.  Which is often crucial to me.  I can plan meals, but sometimes I forget to do that prep stuff, like soaking the beans.  And I’m too frugal to buy canned other than occasionally.  So when a friend asked via Facebook for ways to eat lentils, I promised her a blog post with my favorite lentil recipes.  I believe I will go with the top three.  So, without further ado. . .

Kelly’s Lentil Soup

(I’m not Kelly, but she is my friend who made this for me first.  Since then we eat it several times a month in cooler months.)

1 onion, chopped

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

3 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t dried oregano

1 t dried basil

1 bay leaf

1-28 oz can tomatoes, crushed

2 1/4 c. lentils

8 c vegetable broth, boullion in water or water or a combination thereof

3/4 c fresh spinach, chopped

salt to taste

pepper to taste

splash balsamic vinegar

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped vegetables except spinach and saute until softened and slightly brown.  As they soften add herbs.  When complete add tomatoes, lentils, and broth.  Simmer gently until lentils are soft and ready to eat.  This could be anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes or a bit more.  It will depend upon the size and age of the lentils.  Add chopped spinach.  Cook until bright green, just a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste and the splash of vinegar.
Mujadarrah

A simple meal, but you will be amazed at how flavorful and filling it is.  When I first read it I thought, “How boring and bland.”  But followed through and was thankful.  I think this recipe is from the Mennonite cookbook, Extending the Table.  I don’t want to run upstairs right now to verify, but it is a lovely cookbook and I highly recommend it.

1 1/4 c lentils

6 T extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick

pepper to taste

rice, cooked (We like brown.  I alternate between long and short grain.)  I cook mine in a rice cooker (Thank you to my in-laws for the gift.) because it is the one thing that I’ve continually failed at when cooking on the stovetop.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes rich, dark brown in color.  It will take some patience.  Do not turn up the heat to speed things along.  Meanwhile cook lentils in a scant quart of water.  (A quart is 4 cups, so you don’t have to look that up.)  Bring to a boil and simmer until fully cooked.

Cook rice according to your preferred method.  The recipe calls for 3/4 c uncooked, but I cook a bunch and freeze it for another meal.  So you will use about 1 1/2 c cooked rice.

When lentils have cooked stir in the onions, then cover and remove from heat.  After 5 minutes combine rice with lentil mixture.

Sweet and Sour Lentils with Rice

1/2 c lentils

3 c water

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 T honey

1 T soy sauce

1/2 t ginger root, grated (I now freeze the peeled, unused root for use in future recipes.  It grates very easily when frozen. No more finding moldy, wasted ginger root in the back of my produce drawer.)

1/2 c water

1 t cornstarch

1 small onion, sliced

2 T canola or other flavorless oil

Bring 3 c water to a boil and cook lentils for 25 minutes or until done.  Drain.  Set aside.  Combine vinegar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and 1/2 c water.  Bring to a boil  Mix cornstarch in a little water to make a paste and add to mixture.  Saute onion until soft.  Add lentils and mix well.  Add sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve over rice.  Good with pineapple.

One thing about lentils and other dried beans.  Rinsing and sorting through them first is always a good idea.  Occasionally there is a bit of dirt or a small pebble in the mix.  I generally use plain brown lentils, but have recipes for red ones.  My real favorite is lentils de Puy or French lentils.  They are brown, but very tiny and cook quickly and are extra delicious to my taste buds.

Bon appetit.  I’m going up to roll out, with B as my assistant, our first attempt at homemade goldfish crackers, except mine will be star crackers as I have no little fish cutter.  I’ve been going through my Pinned recipes and picking several to actually try.  And then I made a new Board called “tried it and liked it” so I know what I haven’t made.  But I digress into my type A tendencies.

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