I’ve long been a fan of lentils. Curried, with rice, in soups – you name it I’m just fond of lentils. No wonder Esau traded his birthright to Jacob for a piping hot bowl of lentils.
There are several kinds of lentils: the grayish-brown lentil that was commonly grown in France, but is now grown in Italy and North America. This lentil used to go by the name Spanish pardin, but it’s not uncommon to hear it called the brown lentil nowadays. The French lentil is actually a green lentil. Then, of course there is the black lentil.
You have the red lentil or Egyptian lentil. It is smaller and red in color.
And last but not least in the smallish yellow lentil.
Lentils are in the legume family and are, in reality considered the “pulse” or seed on the plant. Whatever they are and whoever cooked up the first big pot hit on a keeper because lentils have been around forever.
Lentils are a favored meat substitute in the Middle East, Far East and North Africa and have been used for 1,000s of years. In Indian lentils are called “dal” and you will find then prepared in multiple, exotic and delicious ways. My favorite is probably the aforementioned curried lentils.
Lentils nutritional value is gold. The protein content of lentils in 20 – 25%. It’s believed lentils reduce the risk of heart disease and are essential for the longevity of older people. (Can we get a lentil spa bath here, people?) Lentils are full of vitamins, minerals, help diabetics manage glucose levels, or low in fat and sodium and contain no cholesterol. They also seem to have a probotic characteristic. And, least I forget it, yes, they are high in fiber.
So, this unassuming looking little legume is such a super guy, if he was bigger, I bet he could leap a tall building in a single jump.
Now, the other day I saw a recipe for Lentil Chili from Whole Foods. Their recipe inspired me to run and as usual, color outside of the box and come up with enhanced flavor. In our house that coloring outside the box process is called “tweaking” – NO, NOT TWERKING – or “bevizing”.
So, what did I do? Well, I added just a smidgen of olive oil to add extra Mediterranean flavor, bumped up the garlic, used low sodium chicken broth and added some extra southwestern seasons and a tad of kosher salt.
Tall & Handsome had two bowl before he left for work. I packed another bowl for his dinner (with a corndog – that seems to tip the health balance, but the man loves those corndogs).
Serving suggestion: warmed buttered flour or multigrain tortilla or hot corn bread.
by Beverly Hicks Burch
1 16 oz. bag of lentils, washed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 large can of diced tomatoes or 2 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes, with juice
4 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 fresh cilantro, optional
1. Heat oil in large stock pot on medium high heat. Add chopped bell pepper and onion. Cook for about 6 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.
2. Add the chopped garlic and spices and continue cooking for 1 minutes.
3. Next, add 3 tablespoons of the low sodium chicken broth to the vegetable – spice mix and continue cooking for about 2 – 3 minutes.
4. Add 8 cups low sodium chicken broth, the canned tomatoes and the washed lentils. Cook for 30 minutes slightly covered on medium low.
5. Remove lid add salt to taste and continue cooking for 10 minutes. (You may have to add small amounts of additional low sodium chicken broth to maintain the correct consistency of the chili.)
6. Optional*: Just before serving stir in 1/4 cup fresh cilantro.
© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.