Oh my goodness, guys! That was a longer break than anticipated, so I apologize for the radio silence. I’ve had quite a few things going on in my personal life, including a change of professional scenery and the beginning of a full time semester in graduate school. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll have seen vacation pictures as well. I ate my way through San Diego while staying with my uncle for a few days and then spent a week back home in Ohio visiting family.
We’ve been eating on a bit of a budget here at my house which has lead to a lot of tasty but inexpensive meals. One of our favorites has been lentils. If you’re not familiar with lentils, they are similar to other beans in both texture and nutrition value. They have a high fiber content, and a high protein content. They’re a great source of vegetarian protein and they can be used in everything from soups to salads. They would make a great veggie burger, too.
I recently discovered my boyfriend’s fondness for them so I made them at home and they’ve since become a regular fixture on our menu. The recipe below is my favorite way of making them. It’s my take on a traditional Indian daal (lentil) recipe. It involves a method for using spices that I hadn’t tried before. Before serving, you heat your fat in a small pan and add the spices to toast them a bit before stirring them into the pot of lentils. I believe (someone please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong) it’s to keep the fragrant spices more prominent and keep them from getting a little dulled during the long cooking process.
I wanted to incorporate a mirepoix in this without getting the chunks of veggies. I ended up grating them so they didn’t interfere with the texture of the lentils, and I think it worked out really well. I also used the rest of the celery to make a celery salad to go on top for a little bit of a fresh bite. I got this idea from Healthy Moderation who used a fresh cabbage salad on her Mjadara.
Also this recipe makes a HUGE amount of food! I couldn’t believe how much these lentils grew. This would probably feed about 6 people, served with rice and na’an. As it’s just the two of us we ended up eating them all week, which was OK with us.
How to make the most giganticous pot of lentils ever:
1 large carrot
2 stalks of celery
1 medium onion
2 1 inch pieces of ginger, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 lb of green lentils
8 c. of broth and/or water (I ended up using 4 c. broth, 4 c. water)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter (use ghee if you have it, or sub oil if you want to make it vegan)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or pressed)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander*
1/4 tsp garam masala
Celery salad for garnish (recipe below)
Rinse the lentils and set aside.
Scrub clean the carrot and celery. Grate the carrot, celery, and onion into a small bowl. When you grate the celery the long stringy part will not grate. You’ll want the rounded part away from the face of the grater and you’ll be left with a skin of celery once you’re done. Also make sure to catch all of the juice from the onion and add it to the pot (I grated everything into a tupperware container and then added it to the pot).
In a large pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the grated vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the lentils and enough of the broth/water to cover them. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover.
Simmer the lentils for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Check back every 10 minutes or so and add enough liquid so that the lentils are completely covered (Or if you have a big enough pot, I think you could probably just add in all the liquid and cook until they’re tender, but I used a medium sized pot so this is how I cooked it).
Once the lentils are cooked, put about 1 1/2 c. of lentils in the blender with a good amount of the cooking liquid and blend until smooth (Be careful when blending, it’s hot!). Stir the lentil puree into the pot. The consistency should be thick, not soupy.
In a small pan, melt the butter over medium head. Add the garlic and cook for just a moment. Add in all the spices and cook for another minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the butter and spice mixture to the pot and stir to combine. Serve over fluffy rice with the celery salad. I also served mine with some whole wheat pita bread.
5 stalks of celery, thinly sliced on a bias
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar (Can sub apple cider vinegar or lemon juice)
1-2 tbsp olive oil (depending on how much bite you like)
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste (Lots of pepper!)
Whisk together everything but the celery in a wet measure or small bowl. Pour the dressing over the celery and allow to marinate while the lentils cook.