Recipes: Lentils in many forms

  • Updated: February 5, 2014 - 5:12 PM
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Lentils and Mozzarella. Creamy, fresh mozzarella pairs well with earthy lentils, sharpened with a vinaigrette.

Photo: Deb Lindsey, Photo for The Washington Post

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Lentil Quinoa Bolognese Sauce

Serves 8 (makes about 7 cups).

Note: Use this the way you would a meaty Bolognese: over tagliatelle or the pasta of your choice, or in lasagna. You can use a blender instead of a food processor, but that might create more of a homogenous, greenish sauce rather than one with dark-green flecks. Adapted from “The Great Vegan Bean Book,” by Kathy Hester.

• 1 c. dried lentils (preferably brown or green), rinsed

• 3 medium carrots, well scrubbed and cut into large chunks

• 2 c. water

• 2 tbsp. olive oil

• 1/2 small onion, chopped

• 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

• 3 garlic cloves, chopped

• 1 (28 oz.) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes or 3 c. homemade tomato purée

• 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

• 1 tbsp. dried basil

• 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

• 1 small bunch kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves torn into small pieces (about 3 c.)

• 1/2 c. dried quinoa, rinsed well

• 1/2 c. red wine

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Combine the lentils, carrots and 2 cups water in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low; cover and cook until the lentils are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the oil into a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and stir to coat; cook until translucent, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell pepper and garlic, stirring to coat; cook until tender, 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor.

Once the carrots and lentils are cooked, transfer the carrots from the pot to the food processor, along with the tomatoes or tomato purée, oregano, basil, crushed red pepper flakes and kale. Pulse until mostly smooth.

Add the quinoa and red wine to the pot of lentils, stirring to incorporate; cover and cook until the quinoa grains start to show their white tails, 6 or 7 minutes.

Stir the carrot-kale purée into the lentil-quinoa mixture; cook, covered, over low heat until the sauce melds and heats thoroughly, about 20 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.

Serve hot, or cool completely before storing.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 230 Fat 5 g Sodium 180 mg

Carbohydrates 34 g Saturated fat 1 g Protein 11 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 11 g

 

 

Lentils and Mozzarella

Serves 4.

Note: Creamy, fresh mozzarella pairs well with earthy lentils, sharpened with a vinaigrette, in this midwinter dish. Serve with bread as an appetizer or salad, or as a side dish, warm or at room temperature. Adapted from “Feast,” by Sarah Copeland.

• 2 tbsp. slivered almonds (or substitute pine nuts)

• 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

• 1 rib celery, finely chopped

• 1 medium carrot, scrubbed well then finely chopped

• 1 c. dried French du Puy lentils, rinsed

• Fine sea salt

• 1/2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard

• 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

• 1/4 c. fresh dill, chives, basil or mint, or a combination, finely chopped

• Freshly ground black pepper

• 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced or torn into bite-size pieces

• Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions

Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown and fragrant, shaking the pan to keep the nuts from scorching. Cool completely before using.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic, celery and carrot; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add the lentils, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and just enough water to cover. Increase the heat to bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat so it is barely bubbling around the edges; cook until the lentils are just soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain the lentils.

While the lentils are cooking, combine the mustard, vinegar, herbs, 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor or blender, or in a small mixing bowl. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of oil, pulsing or whisking by hand to form a vinaigrette. Taste, and add fine sea salt as needed.

Spoon the warm lentils onto plates. Top with the mozzarella, and sprinkle the cheese with coarse sea salt. Scatter the almonds over the mozzarella and lentils, and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 550 Fat 37 g Sodium 460 mg

Carbohydrates 32 g Saturated fat 11 g

Protein 23 g Cholesterol 45 mg Dietary fiber 15 g

Tacos With Spicy, Smoky Lentils

Serves 4.

Note: This recipe originally called for smoked sun-dried tomatoes, to layer the smoky flavors; those might be hard to find, but a dash of Spanish pimenton and regular sun-dried tomatoes will do the job. Adapted from “The Southern Vegetarian,” by Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence, the duo behind the blog Chubby Vegetarian.

• 2 tbsp. olive oil

• 1 small white onion, diced

• 1 tsp. ground cumin

• 1/2 tsp. sea salt

• 1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton)

• 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder

• 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder

• 1 tbsp. tomato paste

• 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

• 1 c. dried brown lentils, rinsed

• 1 1/2 c. water

• 1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar

• 1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped (drained, if oil-packed)

• 3/4 c. roasted salsa of your choice

• 12 small corn tortillas, flour tortillas or taco shells, warmed

• 1 c. shredded smoked Cheddar cheese (about 4 oz.)

• 2 c. finely shredded green cabbage

• 4 large green onions, chopped

• Flesh of 1 avocado, sliced or cubed

• 1/4 c. sour cream

• Lime wedges

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and stir to coat; cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin, salt, smoked paprika and chile powders; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste, sesame oil, lentils, water, vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes; increase the heat to medium-high to bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture is barely bubbling; cover, and cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are tender but not falling apart, 30 to 40 minutes. (If the lentils are dry before they become tender, add water 1/3 cup at a time and continue cooking.)

Serve family-style, setting out the lentils, salsa, tortillas, cheese, cabbage, green onions, avocado, sour cream and limes in separate bowls on the table and allowing diners to assemble their own tacos.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 580 Fat 24 g Sodium 810 mg

Carbohydrates 73 g Saturated fat 7 g Protein 23 g Cholesterol 20 mg Dietary fiber 25 g

 

Fried Lentils

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Note: This recipe turns lentils into something more like nuts: crunchy and addictive as a snack, but also good on salads and grains and, as cookbook author Mollie Katzen suggests, layered between beets and yogurt in a savory parfait. Adapted from Katzen’s “The Heart of the Plate.”

• 1 c. dried lentils, preferably smaller red, yellow, black beluga or French du Puy

• Safflower oil, olive oil or grapeseed oil, for frying

• Salt

Directions

Put the lentils in a bowl with water to cover. Soak for 1 hour.

Drain the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer, shaking out as much excess water as you can, then lay them out on absorbent towels in a single layer to dry. (Gently shake the lentils around a bit from time to time to help speed up the drying.)

Set a paper-towel-lined plate and a slotted spoon by the stove. Pour the oil to a depth of 1/4 inch in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a lentil on contact, carefully add just enough lentils to form a single layer. Fry, stirring occasionally, until they crisp and become slightly translucent around the edges, 5 to 6 minutes. (Red lentils will turn yellow; French du Puy lentils will turn brown.)

Use the slotted spoon to lift out the lentils in batches, holding and slightly tilting each scoop over the pan to let the oil drain off, then transfer them to the lined plate. Salt lightly.

Repeat with the remaining lentils, being sure to wait until the oil is instant-sizzle-hot before adding the lentils. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Nutrition information per 1 tablespoon:

Calories 40 Fat 1 g Sodium 15 mg

Carbohydrates 5 g Saturated fat 0 g

Protein 2 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

 

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