Posts Tagged ‘lentils’

Gorgeous gorgeous red lentil sauce

The ickle red lentil. So cute, so quick to cook, so affordable, so nutritious. Once we were at my friends for lunch and she served wholewheat pasta topped with a red lentil/onion/pepper combination mixed with some tomato sauce. I think Amelia was close to tears looking at it. She doesn’t realise she eats red lentils plenty, but I always blend them in root vegetable soups. She knew the score though, and I was watching her face which went from “HOW am I going to get this down my throat, I know I won’t like it” to “mmmmmm….quite nice actually!” She afterwards confided “I was really upset when I saw what was on my pasta but I really liked it after all!”

I had forgotten about this incident, until last night my friend recommended doing a “chilli con carne” sauce with red lentils. I knew the girls wouldn’t eat spicey but I thought I would try it out with tomatoes as a pasta sauce. It was so delicious. I love that something so simple tasted so good.

(By the way I can testify to how much liquid red lentils need, they are notorious for sticking. I have burnt them more times than I can count. Be warned)

A very rough idea of what you can do. (For more precise quantities look up a recipe online)

  • Gently saute a large white onion in extra virgin olive oil, finely chopped.Garlic optional-( I didn’t this time)
  • Add a large punnet of fresh cherry tomatoes or one tin of tomatoes (nothing added)
  • Add a pinch or two of sea salt, and a tiny bit of sugar or honey if you want.
  • When the onion is soft, add a few handfuls of red lentils and some water or vegetable stock (Of course I used my home-made stock  🙂 )
  • Stir very frequently, keep heat on low to medium and do not leave it to it’s own naughty devices.
  • When the lentils are nice and soft, taste and re-season as you like it.
  • I gave it a quick whizz in the mini chopper, keeping some texture. Ellie is not yet ready to know she is eating onion 🙂
  • We had some red roasted peppers which I also blended in, which is generally never a mistake in my opinion.
  • Serve over wholewheat/alternative pasta

God bless the humble red lentil. I was all enthused and have stocked up on plenty more.

Happy weekend!

Cumin Lentil Pate

3 (of the many) fantastic reasons to eat lentils.

  • Gram for gram, more protein than beef. And you get some good cattle karma points in addition 🙂  They have three times as much protein when eaten raw (sprouted).
  • Full of fibre, but practically free from fats: in other words, they fill you up, not out.  🙂
  • Rich in folate which helps the breakdown of homocysteine. This is an amino acid which damages artery walls and is associated with heart disease. Happily, the body automatically breaks it down into two benign compounds, but it can only be broken down in the presence of certain nutrients, notably B6, and folate.

Plus, they are cheap, cute, green and make you feel all Mediterranean when you eat them.  This pate is made with canned green lentils for laziness’  convenience’ sake. It’s salty, and full of cumin, just how I like it. You could reduce or eliminate the salt for a great weaning dip/spread.

Important note: While I love food, I am no foodie.I have only made this once, and shared it with my friend, and it received two Seals of Approval (well, four, if you count our little ones, which of course, we do) However, all I did was throw some stuff into the mini chopper until I liked the taste. I have no idea, for example, if the olive oil adds anything in terms of flavour or texture; I don’t really know why I added balsamic and lemon juice….I just tossed it all in with a smile. So if you don’t have all the ingredients, just play around with fat/ saltiness/ herbs/ spices etc until you like the flavour and texture.

Cumin Lentil Pate

  • 2 cups of cooked green lentils (equals one can, rinsed well)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Serve with any of the following:

  • raw vegetables
  • oatcakes
  • green wraps
  • crusty wholegrain bread with roasted peppers on top
  • In a wholewheat pitta bread with salad and sprouts

    Oh, the greyness... 😦

On a sad note: cooked, pureed lentils look an unappetising grey. I never knew that until today, and I was pretty gutted. Like a mushroom pate, only more insipid looking. However, it tastes great. I assure you. Cross my heart and hope to die  live a long and healthy, abundant life. With plenty of lentils, of course.

“Lentejas” / Lentil Stew

I would like to thank Spain for teaching me to love lentils and beans. Specifically my mother-in-law. She always makes her lentil stew with some slices of chorizo sausage in; maybe about 7 small slices for a big pressure-cooker full of stew. This is pretty tame for a Spanish mama. Most lentil stews have half a pig floating in them. Blood sausage, chorizo, bits of pork fat known as tocino, and so on.

I personally do not like eating the chorizo, though it does impart a delicious kind of barbecuey flavour to the stew. This blog, however, is a celebration of the good things that come from the earth, not the good creatures which walk on it, so here is a version suitable for vegetarians, and anyone just watching their fat intake. It is a good, hearty, filling meal with plenty of fibre, and perfect for weight loss!

Here are some different kinds of lentils; in Spain they use the larger green ones (bottom) I use the smaller brown ones at the top, because they seem more common here;  this stew is not traditionally done with the red lentils in the middle.

So… pre-soak the lentils overnight; it’s not necessary but it gives them a headstart, and it would definitely be advisable if you use the larger green ones.  I do my stews in a slow cooker, so I do the prep. for 15 minutes in the morning and then leave it on high or medium all day.

Lentil Stew

Blend the following in a tabletop blender:

  • 1 onion
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1-2 celery stalks
  • 4 sundried tomatoes 
  • half a litre of water

Once blended, make up to 1.5 litres, Pour over about 7 handfuls of (ideally pre-soaked) lentils, and add: 

  • 2-3 carrots, chopped bite-size ,  or  2 big handfuls of frozen baby carrots
  • 1 medium to large potato, chopped, bite-size
  • 1 Tablespoon turmeric
  • 1-2 bayleaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable bouillon powder (optional)

Cover, and leave on high for 6-8 hours.

Here is the finished result. Ooooh it just warms the cockles of me heart!

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