My mother was visiting recently and I made lentils a few times as a side dish. She is always raving about how much she loves them yet she never makes them at home. When I ask her about it she says she’s not sure how and it seems like a lot of work. Can you relate?
I also used to feel that way about lentils and whole grains like Farro or barley. What I’ve come to find out is lentils and whole grains all cook the exact same way as rice. You may need a slightly different ratio of liquid to lentil/grain but it’s pretty much the same.
Lentils are one of my favorites, you don’t have to soak them overnight like you do with dry beans and they’re flavorful with little added ingredients. This recipe written by Wendy Jo Peterson, my coauthor of the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies, is one of my all time favorites. The curry flavor brings out a robust flavor in the lentils that you truly must try. Add that sprinkle of Feta at the end…goodness all around.
Adding spinach takes care of a veggie serving all rolled up into one side dish. That’s how we roll around here since there’s limited time each night for fussy cooking. The recipe calls for frozen spinach so you will need to squeeze the moisture out or you can quickly roughly chop fresh spinach. Both work. If you want a spicier version simply add 1/4th teaspoon of cayenne pepper. That will do the trick.
This simple side has a ton of flavor and between the lentils and spinach provides much needed nutrients like folate, Vitamin A, C and K, phytochemicals, protein and fiber to name a few. Pair this recipe with seafood or chicken, it’s a good one.
- ½ cup brown lentils
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ medium onion, sliced
- 10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted or fresh spinach roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ cup feta, crumbled
- In a 2-quart stockpot, bring the stock and lentils to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until just tender.
- In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute; add the onions and saute for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, drain and squeeze the spinach dry over a colander. Add the spinach to the onions and continue sauteing for 3 minutes. Add the cooked lentils, garlic, curry, and paprika and cook for 5 minutes. Serve with crumbled feta over the top.