I recently put together a cooking segment for my favorite local TV show, Twin Cities Live. Since Covid, we are doing them via skype, from my kitchen. In light of the current situation, with so many people out of work, I wanted to get the word out that the budget conscious cook can always stock her pantry with lentils. Red, green brown, French, the world of lentils is colorful and flavor packed.
As usual, it took some heavy lifting to get Steve Patterson to get on board. For some reason the lowly lentil does not hold much appeal for him. But I would have prevailed, if only we were in the same room, so he could have a bite! I think he may have asked me out for a meal at the end- watch and let me know if you think so! Elizabeth Reimers, of course, understood my interest in the little legume.
If you look at the cost per gram of protein, lentils and other legumes are always the best bargains. Sustainable, storable, and easy to cook, the lentil is a champion at saving the food budget. Whenever someone tells me that eating healthfully is too expensive, I point vigorously toward the bulk bin section at the Coop.
I know the lentil may not be the sexiest of foods, but legumes are the future. Pulses, legumes, beans and other plant foods are the most economical and sustainable way to feed the world. They grow in all sorts of climates, and fix nitrogen in the soil, so that other crops can be grown in the same spot, requiring fewer expensive inputs to flourish.
Personally, I love any legume that is cooked in an interesting way. Try my recipes for lentils, and see if you don’t agree!
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 large carrots peeled and chopped
- 6 garlic cloves peeled
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- extra virgin olive oil
- smoked paprika
- cucumbers and whole wheat pita
- In a small pot, place the red lentils, carrots and garlic with 2 cups water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to keep the lentils simmering, and cook for 10-20 minutes. The lentils will be very soft and starting to fall apart. Drain in a wire mesh strainer, do not rinse.
- Place the cooked lentil mixture in the processor bowl, and process until pureed, scraping down as needed to make a smooth paste. Add the tahini and salt and process until smooth. Add lemon and scrape, process to mix.Transfer to a bowl or storage tub.
- Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika.