Whether you are looking to develop a more healthy way of eating or are a strict vegetarian or vegan, if lentils are not a mainstay of your pantry they should be. Just one cup of cooked lentils contains 63% daily intake of fiber, 36% daily intake of protein as well as being a good source of several different minerals and B vitamins. Combine this with the fact that lentils contain virtually no fat and you have a food that gives you tons of energy and fills you up without weighing you down. Lentils are eaten around the world as a side dish for meats and fish, in salads, in soups and more. Here is a recipe for basic stewed lentils.
2 cups beluga lentils
1 medium carrot
2 stalks celery
1/4 medium onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bay leaf
Approx 4 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
This recipe makes enough lentils for 4 people to eat a lot, or 8 people to have a side.
1. Cut the carrots, celery and onion into small cubes (dice),roughly the size of the lentils.
2. Heat a pot over medium heat. This pot should provide ample space for the lentils and the water you will add. In this pot add the olive oil and sauté the vegetables until tender without browning them. This means a lower slower approach to sautéing these vegetables which is known as "sweating". During this "sweating" process add a pinch of salt. The salt will draw liquid out of the vegetables which will assist in the cooking process.
3. Once the veggies are tender add the lentils and the bay leaf to the pot and continue to sauté for about a minute. The purpose of this is to lightly toast the lentils and bay leaf which adds aroma and flavor to the dish.
4. Add your water and adjust the heat so that the lentils are simmering gently. This cooking process will take about 30 minutes. The reason for an approximate measurement of water is that depending on the heat you are using or the surface area of the pot, you may need to add a bit more water as the lentils cook. Don't let them dry out or they will cook unevenly.
5. Once the lentils are cooked until tender, remove them from the heat and it is time to season them. The reason we season after the cooking while the lentils are still warm is to avoid over salting. If you add a bunch of salt in the beginning, as the water level reduces, the salt becomes more concentrated and your lentils could become too salty. "Season to taste" means add a pinch or two of salt, then taste. Let your taste buds guide you, if it needs more then add more. This ensures lentils that are perfect for you! Enjoy!