Discovering Red Lentils
I’m on a mission to lose a few pounds. It’s not a cosmetic thing, I’m just not feeling quite right, and I’m at that place where my ankle joints hurt when I get up in the morning, and I know I’m eating really poorly these days–or if not poorly, then way way too much.
Fortunately, it’s wintertime, and that means that Various Legume Soups are all ideal dinners. Beans I’ve done for years, ordinary brown lentils have been one of my standbys since before I was married, and garbanzo beans are an easy way to make great cheap low-fat hummus.
But until last week, red lentils, the tiny orange cousins of our accustomed little olive-drab discs, were sort of a mystery to me. I bought some probably 3 years ago in bulk, and they have been sitting in my neat little Ikea container in the cupboard ever since. (That’s another thing you’ve got to love about dried beans–they keep literally forever.) I decided it was time to get going.
Here’s the thing: because of their size, they cook even faster than the brown ones, and do not retain their lentilly shape and form; they sort of dissolve into a mushiness that reminds me of overcooked quinoa. But they taste lovely.
I’m currently collecting red lentil recipes to see where this journey takes me…so far top of the list is Orange Lentil Soup, which looks easy and yummy. Whole Foods’ webpage has one for the very unglamorous-sounding Red Lentils with Onion and Garlic, which appears to be exactly what it sounds like, and lets face it, who can argue with the idea of lentils with onin and garlic? And this one for Spicy Red Lentil and Tomato Soup looks like fun too…combine any of these with some barley or brown basmati rice, and you’ve got a really nice meal for a cold night.
I made a kind of Dal (the Indian word for, as far as I can tell, Lentils Cooked With Spices And Veggies–it might just be the word for lentils, actually) the other night, adapted from this recipe but made in a significantly more slap-dash manner. It turned out really really well; give it a shot!
Red Lentil Dal Recipe
Heat a little olive oil in a pan; add 1 tbs nice curry powder (or make your own) and stir till nice and fragrant. (If you like spicy, add a shake of red pepper flakes as well.)
Add 1 medium onion, chopped, and a few cloves of minced garlic; cook till soft.
Add (stirring after each addition):
- 1 can (unless you were smarter than me and canned your own tomatoes over the summer) diced tomatoes
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 cup dry rinsed red lentils
Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook about half an hour or until it reaches desired consistency.
At the end, correct the seasonings–you will likely want to add as much as another tsp. curry powder and a pretty good amount of salt and pepper.
Serve with brown basmati rice.
We really enjoyed this, and I will be bringing it for lunch next week too…
So, I’m serious–any other readers use red lentils? What do you cook with them?