It’s now April, And I was going to share one of my favorite warm-weather lentil recipes, but the weather in Chicago this week is freezing with blustery snow and wind. Therefore, I’m going to share my warm(but serve it hot) lentil recipe which will fill you up, lower your blood sugar and keep you warm until a warm spring arrives!
I love lentils! Lentils, like peas, garbanzos and peanuts, are legumes. You can think of them as a starch since they are mostly carbohydrate and protein with essentially no fat. They are high in soluble fiber have a low glycemic load; the fiber in them delays digestion. That in turn triggers a slow, steady release of sugar and insulin into the bloodstream – it’s a great way to keep your blood sugar in check!
I prefer the small dark green lentil which is known as the French lentil. You might find them labeled Puy lentils or by the French term “lentilles vertes du Puy.” Because they are so tiny, dried lentils don’t have to be soaked overnight like other legumes and they hold their shape after cooking. It is a good idea to rinse them well because they contain a lot of dust and dirt. Boil very gently and are done in about 50 minutes.
1/4 cup uncooked lentils = 169 calories, <1 gram fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 gram monounsaturated fat, 12 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams fiber, 3 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 mcg Vitamin K.
OK, so let’s get to the recipe! Here’s one of my favorite ways to prepare hearty green lentils. Feel free to modify the recipe to whatever you have in your fridge. For example, add celery or okra during the cooking process.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 2 teaspoons salt (add more at the end to your taste)
- Pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 ½ cup dried green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 ¾ cups of water or broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ½ cups fresh spinach
- Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms until they’ve released their liquid. Then add the onions and carrots then sauté until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the spices, salt and pepper.
- Add the lentils, the can of diced tomatoes with the juice and the tomato paste until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the water or broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then cover and lower the heat to a simmer for about 50 minutes. You’ll know the lentils are cooked when they are no longer hard when you bite into them.
- Much of the water will have evaporated by now. Give it a taste. Does it need more salt and pepper? Are the lentils no longer hard?
- Now add the spinach and mix again. Let it simmer another 5 minutes and ENJOY!
This dish keeps well for a week in the fridge and can be eaten by itself or as a side with fish or meat or keep it vegetarian! It also freezes well.
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