If you hate lentils, chances are you have eaten them from a can. The first time I tried them was long before becoming vegan. The lentils were floating in a dirty, brown broth labeled by the Progresso company as soup. I was unimpressed, to say the least.
Since then, however, I have come to appreciate home cooked lentils for the clean, lean, whole food protein powerhouses they are, boasting 18 grams per cup. Not too shabby!
Through experience, I have learned the tastiest lentils are always cooked fresh. By controlling the cooking and flavoring process can you truly have the best lentil experience.
Here is a simple, flavorful recipe for lentils you can dish over a steaming bowl of rice and announce that dinner is done.
Lentils For Dinner
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 cup Celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup Carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup Onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Minced garlic
1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh–grated or finely chopped
1 cup Lentils, brown–rinsed, removing any stones or foreign matter
1 Bay leaf
2 cups Water
1 tsp. Salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat large, deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat and sauté onion, carrots and celery in olive oil with a pinch of salt until onion is translucent and carrots are crisp-tender (about 7 minutes).
Add ginger and garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.
Pour 2 cups of water into the vegetable mixture along with the rinsed lentils, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered until lentils are tender, but not mushy *(about 20-25 minutes), with most or all of the water absorbed. You want them to simmer–bubbling nicely, not to boil like crazy. This will make them break apart and get mushy.
Taste for salt and add more if needed, along with a generous grind of fresh, black pepper.
*Note: Cooking time can vary slightly from brand to brand, so it’s a good idea to check in periodically and see how the lentils are coming along, giving them a little stir. Pull one out and bite into it at about the 20 minute mark. The last thing you want is to overcook them. Al dente (firm to the bite) is my goal, so I can toss any leftovers into a cold salad the next day.