Guest Post by Alyssa Bauman, Nourished.ca
I love lentils. They’re economical, a nutritional superstar, flavourful, easy to cook—no overnight soaking necessary—and versatile in so many recipes. They are an easy and meaty substitute that can be used in burgers, meatballs, meat sauces, taco mixes, etc. Small, but mighty, lentils top the charts when it comes to fibre-rich foods. They are a plant-protein powerhouse, and they provide folate, magnesium and antioxidants, with only a few calories. I’m not sure why so many shy away from cooking with them, but my goal is that they’ll find a spot on your weekly meal planning rotation.
Here’s how to cook a meal using lentils once, and then enjoy your leftover lentils in three different ways. Even if your kids don’t eat them the first time, keep serving them consistently, and eventually they will.
Important Notes To Keep In Mind:
- 1 cup of dried lentils = about 2.5 cups of cooked lentils.
- Add 3 cups of liquid for every one cup of lentils. I like cooking my lentils in a seasoned broth. This adds extra flavor and depth to the final product.
- RED LENTILS: Great for curries. These tend to split making for a creamier consistency.
- BROWN LENTILS: These have the perfect texture for soups, burgers, and stews.
- BLACK LENTILS: Also known as Beluga lentils, these smaller, harder consistencies are ideal for lentil salads or room temperature dishes.
RECIPE 1: LENTIL BURGERS
Serve this as a traditional burger, Greek style with tzatziki and feta cheese, topped on a salad, or with whatever sauce the kids like to dip. Double the recipe and freeze the leftovers as these make a perfect protein snack.
- 1 cup cooked brown lentils
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 cup dried chickpeas, cooked
- 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt and black pepper
- 1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (I like Mary’s Brand, or a brown rice breadcrumb works well)
- 3/4 cup grated carrots
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Saute the mixture for 7 minutes. Stir in garlic.
- Blend chickpeas, parsley, olives, eggs, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth.
- Add chickpea mixture into onion/pepper/garlic mixture. Add breadcrumbs, carrots and baking powder. Stir all into lentils.
- Using your hands, shape into burger or slider sized patties.
- Heat olive oil in pan. Make really hot. Cook burgers in pan till brown and fragrant – about 5 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for about 3 minutes.
OR preheat oven at 350, line baking sheets with parchment paper, and cook for 6 minutes. Flip and cook again for 3 minutes.
Great both ways.
RECIPE 2: EASY LENTIL SOUP
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 3-4 celery stalks, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 tblsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika, to taste
- 1/8th tsp cayenne pepper, optional
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 5-6 cups bone broth chicken or veggie
- 1/2 cup cooked brown lentils
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 handfuls torn bite-sized kale leaves
- In large pot, sautee onion and garlic in oil for about 5-6 minutes over medium heat.
- Add in celery and sauté for a few minutes more.
- Stir in bay leaf and spices (cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika, cayenne).
- Add tomatoes, broth and lentils.
- Boil for 5 minutes, and then simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
- Stir in kale and season to taste.
- Garnish with avocado, arugula, pumpkin seeds.
RECIPE 3: LENTIL AND WALNUT SALAD
This salad offers phytonutrients, great protein, iron, and Omega-3 essential fatty acids which are necessary for brain and skin health. It also provides excellent fibre, keeping you full longer. This salad tastes so good, it will make eating healthy addictive.
- 1 1/2 cups cooked beluga lentils, cooled and drained
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions, green part only
- 1 cup packed thinly sliced baby spinach
- 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 8 olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tblsp balsamic
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp chopped fresh mint, cilantro or both
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Salt and pepper
- Any other favourite veggies, chopped in bite size pieces
- Combine lentils, green onions, spinach, tomatoes, olives, and walnuts. Gently mix well.
- In a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, mustard, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper together.
- Pour over lentil salad and mix well.
- Allow salad to set at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, stirring a few times before serving.
For more healthy recipes, and other wellness wisdom, head to www.nourished.ca or follow @nourishedbyalyssa.
Check out the full March/April issue of WestCoast Families magazine online here.