Monday, March 5, 2012

Spiced Lentils

Last night we broke away from our usual one-pot meal in favor of --get this--a three part meal.  What can I say?  It was the weekend and we were feeling adventurous!  (Plus, I was really craving some dark green leafy vegetables.)  So, we made a delicious dinner of Spiced Lentils and Sautéed Rainbow Chard over brown rice.

Simple yet delicious.
Spiced Lentils
  • 2 cups dried lentils (we used green lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5.5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon salt

First, sort and rinse the lentils, removing any stones or other debris.  Next, heat the oil and garlic in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  When the oil becomes hot, add the onion and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes.  Then add the water, lentils, and remaining spices and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are cooked (they should be mushy but still retain their shape) and most of the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. 

Serve hot over brown rice.  Yields about 6 servings.

As I said above, this dish is both simple and delicious.  There's really not a lot going on, and yet the dish's mild, earthy, savory flavor is really satisfying.  Plus, it has a good, not-too-mushy texture as the lentils don't cook down into mush.  I left a little bit of liquid in the lentils instead of cooking it all out to create a sort of broth for the rice, but if you don't want that, just reduce the water a bit. 
We actually wanted to make this dish with red lentils (they cook faster), but we couldn't find them at Giant.  (That's really a big downfall of doing a lot of our shopping at a big box store--we have a lot of trouble finding "alternative," non-meat proteins.)  Nonetheless, green lentils were easy to find, along with everything else in the dish.
 Ease of Preparation:   
This recipe makes use of few ingredients and few cooking techniques.  It does take a while to cook lentils and rice, but there's definitely a lot of down-time.       
Non-vegan friendliness:  
I know that Simon finds dishes like this to be a little unsubstantial, and it's true: there aren't many calories in this dish and it takes a lot to fill you up.  That said, lentils are such a basic ingredient that anybody should like this dish.  Lentils are a great source of protein, too, so there's a great reason to eat a lot of them!

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