Lentils can be an excellent source of nutrition at relatively low cost. According to researchers from the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin, lentils may have been one of the first agricultural crops grown on this planet, with cultivation beginning more than 8,500 years ago. A member of the legume family, the lentil (Lens culinaris) is a bushy annual plant. Its lens-shaped seeds grow in pods of usually two seeds each and come in a variety of colors: brown, yellow, red, pinkish, blue-green, and in between.
Lentils are a nutrient-rich powerhouse. They contain vitamins, minerals, and enzymes and are an inexpensive source of protein—about 30 percent of their calories come from protein—having the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut. Health Magazine touted lentils as one of the five healthiest foods.
Our family ate a lot of lentils during my childhood and I liked them. Over the years I decided that additional ingredients (beyond salt, water, and a chopped onion) made them much tastier. Here’s my version. You can use yellow or brown or red lentils or a combination. I tend to like the yellow-brown variety. I also prefer my food on the mild side and this recipe has a mild-to-barely-medium curry warmth. If you want it very mild, use only half the ginger called for; if hotter, add another ¼ tsp.
- 1 cup brown or yellow lentils, washed carefully, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 carrot, cut into one-inch chunks
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp Indian curry (mild or medium)
- 1 tsp garlic minced
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ - ½ tsp ground ginger, depending on taste preference of mild to medium
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp ground celery seeds
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp cumin
Place vegetable broth and quartered onions in a blender and blend until smooth. Add sliced carrot and pulse until chopped.
Pour into a large sauce pan. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium low (keep mixture bubbling a little) and simmer until soft, stirring periodically.
Ladle into small individual bowls and serve as a main dish with a green side salad.
Garnish lentil pottage with tiny cubes of jicama, fresh parsley, or low-fat sour cream, etc., and serve as a side dish.
Serve over cooked brown basmati rice. Brown rice and lentils served together are called a complete protein.
If you can eat nightshades without experiencing joint pain, add 4 cups of fresh diced roma tomatoes and serve the mixture as a thick stew over cubed whole grain bread, halved baked potatoes, or pasta.
Freezes well. Double the recipe and freeze leftovers for later. That gives you more from one culinary effort. They cook more quickly if soaked in water overnight.