I am a seriously cheap, ad-watching, sale-hunting, clearance-rack scouring mom of four. My motto is “A penny saved is a BAD SALE!”. So, when I can find ground beef that is low in fat, high in fiber and protein, cholesterol free, grain-fed, easy to use, easy to store, and .80 cents a pound I say SCORE! Now, the reality is I have never found that (in meat form). I have learned that I can get all of this benefit through tiny, little legumes known as lentils. I turn to lentils 3-4 times a week and when BB offered a 25 pound bag there was no debate in my mind- I was stocking up. I use lentils in place of ground beef or turkey in almost any recipe including tacos (season just as you would ground meat), and even meatloaf. Lentils are also a perfect ingredient in soups and salads. I love lentils because they need no pre-soaking (in my busy life that means no pre-planning!) and they cook up much faster than regular beans.
I am certainly not the first to discover the benefits of lentils. In fact, they are one of the oldest foods known to man. Archeologists have actually found evidence of lentil use in ancient Greek caves dating back to the Paleolithic era. (13,000 to 9,500 years ago). Lentils have been discovered in tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs, and are mentioned in the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau. Historically, lentils have been a necessary part of Italian New Year’s feasts. They are thought to resemble coins and therefore, it is said that eating them on the New Year will help bring prosperity in the coming months. (.80 cents a pound- of course they will be more prosperous- think of all the money they are saving!)
To cook lentils, simply pick over to remove debris or shriveled lentils, rinse, and drain. Cover with water or broth and boil for 2 to 3 minutes (to aid in digestion). Reduce heat and simmer until tender. Depending on the variety and age, cooking time may take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. Do NOT add salt to the cooking water as this will toughen the lentils. Once cooked the lentils will need to be generously seasoned with whatever flavors you are wanting. And the nice thing about lentils is they will go with just about any flavor!
I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes for lentils but really this healthy, versatile food can be used in creative ways throughout your meals. Your family’s health and budget will benefit from incorporating this tiny powerhouse into your routine. Happy Cooking!
- 3 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
- 1 cup lentils, rinsed
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper (I like a combination of colors)
- a dash of olive oil
- 1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1 Tbl chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 1/2 Tbl molasses (use all brown sugar if you don't have it)
- 1 1/2 Tbl brown sugar
- Frank's pepper sauce to taste (Optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 hamburger buns (I use Pamela's Gluten Free baking mix)
- Combine broth and lentils in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Cook onions and peppers with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions have softened and turned translucent, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, ketchup, mustard powder, chili powder, molasses and Worcestershire sauce; simmer 5 to10 minutes until thickened.
- Stir lentils into sauce mixture, adding broth or water as needed to obtain the desired "sloppy joe" consistency. Serve on buns.
- a dash of olive oil
- 1/2 an onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 cups carrots, chopped
- 2 cup celery, chopped
- 2 cup cauliflower, chopped
- 2 tsp curry powder (add more if you want it hotter)
- 1 1/2 cups dry lentils, rinsed
- 6 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch cumin
- 1 pinch ginger
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup white rice, cooked in 2 cups water for 2 minutes
- 1 12 oz bag green peas
- Heat oil in large pot. add onions other veggies. cook 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and curry. Cook 1-2 more minutes or until curry is fragrant.
- Add chicken broth, lentils and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 35-40 minutes or until lentils are soft.
- Add other spices. use immersion blender to blend soup into a bisque (a thick soup). salt and pepper to taste.
- Put rice and peas in a bowl. pour bisque over the top. Enjoy!
Alton Brown’s Lentil Soup Recipe
Lentils vs. Ground Beef- You decide!
jen and shane- I am so glad you liked them. Sometimes i wonder if anyone else will like my crazy concoctions 🙂 I made them the other night and added just a little bit of liquid smoke- it was kind of nice. Next you need to try lentil tacos. Just season the cooked lentils with whatever taco seasoning you usually use and build your tacos- very yum!
made these tonight for supper! all i can say is holy smokes! the sloppy lennies turned out great! the kids loved em and so did the hubby!
thanks for sharing the recipe!
Here is a recipe for using lentils on my blog
and another here: http://foodgardenrecipes.blogspot.com/2011/12/life-enhancing-lentil-soup.html
🙂 You should try ’em…they are very very yummy and yes- the name always makes me smile!
Sloppy Lenny? ROFLOL! LOVE it!
Thank you for the lentil ideas! I love them.
My favorite lentil recipe in the fall and winter: http://ciaofromdebbie.com/recipes/soups-stews-recipes/barley-lentil-stew-recipe/
I serve it with freshly grated parmigianno regianno on top and fresh baked focaccia. It’s a family favorite in our house.