Saturday afternoon while we were eating lunch, my husband asked our usual midday question: “What should we make for dinner?” Some days, like yesterday, I cannot face the idea of eating meat. I am not a vegan or even vegetarian by any means, but I do love my vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes. I scoured the Internet for a recipe that appealed to me. I started with peaches (since we were listening to the Faith Middleton show and she was talking about peaches) and ended up finding an awesome “red lentil soup” from 101 Cookbooks. If you are not familiar with that site, I suggest you check it out immediately. Although it is not 100% gluten free, it is a not-to-miss site for foodies who cook. (This particular 101 Cookbooks recipe was adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.)
Here are some shots of the cooking process. The recipe calls for yogurt, although I often have yogurt for breakfast, never dinner, and my husband won’t eat yogurt in a million years. We followed the recipe exactly, and it was fabulous, especially the rounding out of flavors with the mustard seed, turmeric, cumin and lemons.
Tonight I heated up the lentils again with a new pot of brown rice for two friends (Amanda and Marni) who stayed for an impromptu dinner. I had run out of spinach so I served it with fresh argula dusted with a pinch of salt instead. The texture and flavors complimented each other really well, as did the raw and cooked aspects of the dish. They loved it, even Marni who is not a fan of cilantro.
First, here’s the completed dish:
Now, here are the lentils cooking. If you have never cooked lentils, don’t be intimidated. It’s as easy as cooking rice.
The recipe calls for a hand blender to puree the lentils, but I just used a small whisk to make them a little smoother, not quite pureed. It doesn’t come out exactly like “soup” but I enjoy the texture when you can still taste a bit of the lentil shape. I don’t have a hand blender – maybe a future purchase? – and was not going to lug out and clean my blender if the whisk worked just as well.
Separately, you sauté onions and then add other ingredients per the recipe:
Then you drop the onion mixture into the lentil pot and stir:
The only thing I didn’t like is how many pots you need to use (and later clean) to get the whole dish, but then again it made two meals. (Next time, I will make a double batch and try freezing it.)
Also, since you are already making rice, you can easily make up a plate for your children of a compatible meal. Here’s a hot dog, rice and spinach. My son didn’t eat much of the spinach, but he did agree to have it on his plate, so that’s an improvement! (My daughter was not home that night. I don’t think she would have eaten it either. Broccoli and green beans are the staple green veggies in our home for the kids.)
You can also “Mexicanize” the lentil recipe, as my husband often does with food, by adding avocado:
I added the avocados to the salad he made instead, which he said didn’t go with it. I didn’t think the avocados went with the lentil dish. We happily agreed to disagree.
His salad, which is only for the true raw food lovers, is raw fennel, brussel sprouts and radishes cut thin with our standard olive oil, lime juice and balsamic vinegar as dressing, plus salt and pepper.
Here is the full recipe from 101 Cookbooks (click here), if you would like to give it a try!