The other night I cooked lentils for the very first time. Lentils and other legumes are a vegan staple because they are versatile, easy to cook (no soaking like beans), tasty (well I just found that out) and nutritionally packed. I have only eaten lentils a handful of times in a dal makhani dish at our favorite Indian place. In my household growing up I never laid eyes on a bean or legume. Salads and cooked green vegetables were routinely part of family dinners but never beans or lentils. And in my adult life I wasn’t drawn to try them although I’m not sure why. A visual thing I think.
So with plans to make a Vegan Lentil Curry (recipe here) I went over to Whole Foods to buy some lentils. The recipe didn’t specify what kind of lentils to buy so I decided on some French green ones. I think I remember Ina Garten serving those up to Jeffrey at some point. If they’re good enough for the Barefoot Contessa they’re good enough for me.
This recipe is very simple to make. The cooked and drained lentils are added to an aromatic sauce full of spices including ginger, garam masala and curry powder. Tomato sauce ( I used a jar of organic pureed San Marzano tomatoes) and coconut milk create a creamy texture. Here’s a look at the sauce simmering away:
Since I’m a lentil newbie, I don’t know how easy it is to achieve a cooked-through texture without having the lentils get mushy but these held up beautifully and I was pleased with the texture overall. We served them over brown rice:
This dish was absolutely delicious with complex flavors and just enough heat from the curry powder. Wow, lentils are filling! I tend to be more generous with serving size for my vegan dishes because I want to be sure to get enough calories (a good problem to have) but this hefty serving was way too much. More leftovers for tonight’s dinner.
So I am officially a lentil convert. My world just keeps getting bigger. I like it.