I’ll admit it. I used to think lentils were just boring brown mushiness. But I had heard good things (especially about their impressive nutrition resume), so I tried them out. That was a couple of years ago at this point and now they’re one of my go-to legumes! They require no pre-soaking, as opposed to dried beans, so you can have them for dinner without planning ahead – yeah, it happens. They’re also cheap, like other legumes, so you get quite the nutrition bang for your buck. They’re pretty fuss-free, so I often just throw in some vegetables and spices with them and let them go at it. For the version in the photos I used carrots, parsnips, broccoli, and kale, but add what every floats your vegetable boat! :) Also, I love using warm curry spices (turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne – also all very good for you!), but you can go more savory (basil, oregano, thyme, etc.) if you prefer.
Lentil vegetable bowl (vegan/gluten-free)
The humble lentil shines in this hearty, customizable, little-of-this, little-of-that one-pot meal. The dish can be served over brown rice, quinoa, or another grain of choice, or enjoyed a capella as a thick stew. Customize it to your vegetable and spice preferences – vegetable suggestions are included in the ingredient list, according to cooking time. Enjoy!
1 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
“Long-cook” vegetables: carrots, 1/4-inch dice; parsnips, 3/4-inch dice; potatoes / sweet potatoes, 3/4-inch dice
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Spices: 1 TBS curry powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste) ** NOTE: The recipe can “hold” more spices, so feel free to add more according to your tastes **
2 cups dry brown lentils (rinsed and picked over)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 1 can diced tomatoes – include the liquid!)
4-5 cups water or broth/stock
1 bay leaf
“Medium-cook” vegetables, chopped into bite-sized pieces: broccoli (I peel the stem and include it too); green beans; thicker asparagus
“Short-cook” vegetables, chopped into bite-sized pieces: zucchini / summer squash; peas (of any kind); thinner asparagus; heartier greens like kale
Greens: spinach, chard, etc.
2 TBS vinegar – apple cider, rice, etc.
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
Optional garnish/add-ins: fresh herbs (parsley, basil, cilantro, etc.), fresh lemon/lime/orange juice, nutritional yeast
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and “long-cook” veggies, and saute for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 2 minutes, until aromatic, then stir in spices and heat for an additional 1 minute. Add lentils, tomatoes, 4 cups of the water/broth, and bay leaf and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes total – add vegetables as noted. After the first 5 minutes, add “medium-cook” veggies (or wait until 10 minutes in if you like them a little crunchy like me!). Add “short-cook” veggies at about the 20 minute mark. Add tender greens (like spinach and chard) in the last 5 minutes. Add more water/broth in the middle of the cooking time if you feel like there’s not enough to simmer with the vegetables, BUT you need less water than you think. (Unless of course, you want to turn this into a delicious stew, which is perfectly acceptable.) Turn off heat and stir in vinegar and salt, to taste. Remove bay leaf and serve over brown rice, quinoa, or plain bare naked. :)