Monday, January 10, 2011

Let's Talk Lentils

I had never cooked with lentils prior to starting this new way of eating. Let me tell you, lentils will be a staple in my pantry moving forward, regardless of how we eat. Lentils are:

1) Economical.

2) Easy to prepare.

3) Versatile.

4) Delicious.

Here is just one of my favorite ways to prepare lentils. I have a few more up my sleeve, but this is what I am making for dinner tonight. Can't wait! I got the original recipe here (this site is phemonenal for gluten-free cooking) , but I tweaked it a bit to make it vegan. This recipe calls for red lentils, which are softer, creamier, and (for lack of a better descriptor) sweeter than brown lentils. I have used brown lentils for this, too. They are more savory and have more of a "bite" to them (they are firm, even after cooking). After using both, I much prefer the red lentils for this recipe, but the brown lentils worked okay, too, if that's what you have on hand/can find in your local grocery store. You could also add tofu to this recipe if you are eating soy and needed an extra texture to satisfy your palette. Heck, if you aren't eating vegan, adding pieces of cooked chicken to this would be amazing, too. I love finding recipes that are so delicious, I will keep making them even if/when we return to a "normal' diet.

Curry Red Lentils and Rice (Original Recipe courtesy of Jackie's Kitchen)

1. Prep.

-1 onion, diced (I used half a red onion)
-3 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 TBS of the pre-minced garlic-in-a-jar)

2. Cook.

In a medium sauce pot, combine:

-1/2 cup red lentils, picked through and washed
-the onion
-the garlic
-1.5 cups vegetable broth
-1 15.6 oz can of coconut milk

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. After the 25 minutes, add:

-1/2 cup dry rice (I used basmati)
-3/4 tsp sea salt
-1/4 tsp turmeric
-1/2 tsp good curry powder (I doubled this, because M and I love curry flavor)
-1/2 tsp ground coriander
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the cover from the pot and cook for another couple of minutes to dry things out a little.

4. Remove the rice and lentils from the heat. In a small pan, melt 2 Tbsps butter and stir-fry 1.5 tsp cumin seeds until fragrant and they begin to darker. Drizzle the butter-cumin mixture over the lentils and fluff with a fork. (I used 2 tbs. olive oil and flax seeds for this step. I'd like the try the cumin seeds sometime, but I liked the texture that the flax seeds added.)

This is so rich and satisying, I guarantee you will not feel as if you are on any sort of "diet." The lentils add a low-fat protein source and it is perfect for a cold night where you need something warm and filling.

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