Saturday, August 4, 2012

How to cook lentils, the yummy way!

"Since the beginning of civilization, the lowly lentil has nourished healthy peoples across a wide portion of the globe." - Sally Fallon

High in phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, B vitamins, molybdenum and of course fibre, the lowly lentil deserves to be taken seriously, or at least internally.  If you need lentils in a hurry, you could always open up a can, but personally I find canned lentils insipid.  I prefer to cook up a batch from scratch whenever possible.

These tiny little legumes may seem innocent enough, but they are jammed packed full of fibre.  For that reason, I recommend eating lentils as a side dish and not as a main course - unless you happen to eat nothing but whole grains and prunes all day, then, maybe, your body might be up for the challenge.

This recipe is heavily inspired by the lentil recipe in The Just Bento Cookbook.  Although, as usual, I've altered many of the ingredients and proportions.  You eat these lentils as is, hot or cold, or you can do what I do and use them in other recipes.

My Favourite Lentil Recipe

1/2 cup dry lentils (I use brown)
1/3 large sweet mild onion, like walla walla
1/4 carrot
2 cloves of garlic
(optional) Bay leaf
fresh herbs (thyme, sage, chives)
1/2 a stock cube (vegetable, chicken, whatever you like)
(optional) 1/2 tsp juice from  sauerkraut or Kim Chi

  • Wash the lentils several times in cold water.  Keep an eye out for any tiny little stones and pick out any pieces of lentil skin that float to the top.
  • Put the lentils in a pan and add water so that the level of the water is at least an inch above the lentils.  Bring them to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain and rince the lentils in cold water, set aside.  Wash and dry the pot.
  • While the lentils are cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Chop the onions, garlic, and carrots very fine.
  • Remove the stems from the herbs and chop the leaves very fine.  Do NOT chop the bay leaf, this gets added whole and taken out at the end.
  • Combine the half a stock cube with 2/3 cup of warm water.   
  • On medium heat, fry the onion and garlic and carrot until onions start to go transparent.  Add the lentils, herbs, stock liquid and salt to taste.
  • Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the moisture is gone.
  • Discard the bay leaf before eating.

If you are going to use these lentils in other dishes, allow them to cool before placing in an airtight container in the fridge.

If you are going to eat these lentils as is, try this trick I learned from the book Nourishing Traditions.  Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of sauerkraut juice (the juice that the sauerkraut is packed in) or for a spicy alternative, the juice from Kim Chi.  The enzymes from the fermented cabbage helps aid digestion and, in theory, allows the body to receive extra nutrition from the lentils.  Personally I just think it tastes great.

This will keep in the fridge up to a week.  I haven't tried freezing it yet, as it's so easy to whip up a small batch whenever the mood hits me.  

For a Vegan Friendly dish, be sure to use Vegetable Broth.

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