Lentils are, in short, amazing.
Often hailed among the world’s healthiest foods, these lovely legumes are rich in fiber, protein, iron, potassium, and B vitamins. They have been proven to lower cholesterol, regulate blood-sugar levels, reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, and treat gastrointestinal disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome. Just 1 cup of lentils provides 7 of the body’s essential minerals and maxes out at 230 calories. (Now, I don’t necessarily advocate counting calories, but the point is lentils are ideal for those looking to manage their weight).
If you’re not yet familiar with the lentil’s nutritional benefits, tender meaty texture, woodsy flavor, and appetite-satisfying heartiness, then here’s a recipe you need to try. This is my mom’s creation, and she recently taught me how to make it when I moved into my own apartment. Easy to whip up, absolutely delicious, and convenient to store in the fridge for anytime you don’t feel like cooking, this dish gets my seal of approval.
1 cup lentils (I prefer red, but you can also use either the green or yellow variety)
1 cup carrots (finely chopped)
3 stalks green onion (finely chopped)
1 1/2 ounces crumbled bleu cheese (I add this for creaminess, but if your dietary needs exclude dairy, shredded vegan “cheese” will work too)
6 cups water (3 cups for prepping lentils, and 3 cups for cooking lentils)
1. Pour 1 cup of lentils into a strainer (make sure to use a strainer with small holes) and rinse them off in the sink.
2. Transfer the lentils into a large stainless steel or teflon pot, then pour 3 cups of water into the pot.
3. Set the pot aside on your counter top and let the lentils soak for 1 hour.
4. When the hour is up, run the lentils back through the strainer (they should have expanded in size).
5. Transfer the lentils back into the pot, then pour in another 3 cups of water.
6. Heat the lentils and water on a large burner and bring to a rolling boil.
7. While the water is boiling, chop the carrots and green onion into fine slices.
8. When the lentils have softened, lower the heat to a simmer and add the chopped veggies.
9. Stir the mixture, then cover and let simmer on the lowest setting for 1 hour.
10. When the hour is up, taste the lentils and veggies to ensure softness (if they are still tough, bring back to a boil).
11. Once the water has absorbed, add the bleu cheese crumbles (optional) and stir thoroughly.
This savory recipe can be enjoyed as a filling and nutritious meal in itself for lunch. Or, serve it as a side dish for dinner along with sauteed chicken, fish, or tofu (for all you vegetarians out there) and a fresh spinach salad.
And here’s how my first attempt turned out.