Lentils have been a year-round staple in my pantry for many years. Different from other pulses (the dried seeds of legumes), lentils cook fairly quickly and require no overnight soaking, which makes them ideal for busy weeknight meals. Their versatility allows them to be used in salads during the warmer months and in hearty casseroles and soups in the winter. In addition, their nutritional value sets them apart as a great plant-based protein alternative — high in fiber, folate, thiamin and iron.
After cooking lentils for many years, I have found that the best way to prevent them from getting mushy or drying out is to bring them to a rapid simmer and then reduce the heat to low for the rest of the cooking. Not convinced yet? What about adding your favorite ingredients and seasonings? Lentils have been enjoyed in several cuisines around the world for centuries, so now it is time to make this nutritious pulse your own.
Servings: 8 to 10
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups brown lentils
7 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 large diced tomato
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups chopped fresh kale
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is tender and garlic is light brown in color. Add carrot, celery and sweet potatoes. Cook until vegetables soften, about 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Stir in the lentils, vegetable broth and water. Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves and thyme and stir. Cook on medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes or until lentils are cooked.
3. Add the fresh kale. Season with salt and pepper (if needed) and stir. Remove bay leaves and serve warm.