My dad’s an agronomist; a retired one, in fact. He spent 37 years in the world of seed certification, walking wheat fields and identifying all manner of plants used for food, mostly here in Washington state. Despite his lighthearted threats over the years to set up his easel and give me and my sister legume lectures as a punishment, I credit him with instilling in me a love of all things lentil. (Was it reverse psychology at work?)
Lentils aren’t showy on their own, but can be a nice base for adding other flavors. The result can be smooth, thick, creamy, chewy or al dente, depending on how long you leave them bubbling away in the pot. Whether they’re Red Chief, Crimson, U.S. Regular, French Green or Beluga, lentils are a cheap, fiber-filled, high-protein dynamo of a food. Because of their health benefits, the American Heart Association actually recommends including beans, nuts and seeds at least 4 times a week for everyone, not just the plant-minded among us. Unlike most dry beans, you don’t have to soak lentils ahead of time and they cook fairly quickly. For these reasons and because they make me think of my leguminous-plant-loving dad, they’re a staple in my pantry and in my skillet.
Here’s an easy one-pot meal recipe that’s sure to warm you up in 2013.
What’s your favorite way to cook with these little nuggets of nutrition?