Sunday, December 16, 2007

Continuing My Love Affair with Lentils

I had been thinking about lentils all day as I turned my thoughts to economizing on food. I’ve always loved the nutty flavor of lentils simmered until they were soft.

My most favorite style of cooking is to assess the ingredients on hand and simply make up a recipe. That way there’s no need to run to the store. If you don’t have it on hand, it isn’t included.

I had in mind a savory lentil stew which included another vegetable and chicken over brown rice. So here is the recipe:

Pour one large glass of a good white wine that will inspire you as you forage through the refrigerator and the pantry and stir the various ingredients together. Make sure there is enough left for a refill if the glass empties before the stew is ready.

Put some brown rice on to cook in chicken broth, adding a small amount of salt.

Saute two pieces of lean bacon cut into small pieces in a heavy saucepan. While the bacon fries, mince 4 cloves of garlic, a large shallot or two, 4 scallions, and a piece of ginger. Throw them in to saute with the bacon.

Add 1/4 cup (more or less) of each of 3 kinds of lentils: yellow, French green, and red. Add several tablespoons of olive oil, some French thyme, basil, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. Add a small amount of red wine and a small amount of Balsamic vinegar. Stir all ingredients to mix the flavors. Cover with chicken broth and simmer for 15 minutes.

Carefully add 6-8 spears of asparagus cut on the diagonal in ½" pieces, letting them sit on top of the lentil mixture to steam. Cook for another 15 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup of chopped roasted chicken, not stirring the pot. Cook for 10 minutes.

Stir the lentil mixture to distribute the asparagus and the chicken. Serve over the cooked brown rice.

My husband, who had viewed this recipe with suspicion, gave it his seal of approval because he couldn’t taste the garlic and in fact no one ingredient predominated.

I think the whole thing probably cost about $3 (disregarding the cost of the white wine) and there are leftovers for a lunch. My belly is full and satisfied and my wine glass is empty again.


Blogger GEWELS said...

I LOVE lentils! and don't fix them nearly enough.
I currently have (in my pantry) green lentils, black French lentils and red lentils.
I guess I should try a new recipe.
You've inspired me.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gewels -- Let me know what you decide to do with your lentils!

Most everyday I get a hit from someone who Googles "how to grow lentils." Obviously we are not the only ones who find them interesting.

10:59 PM  
Blogger KC said...

You had me from the pouring of the wine. But I live a lentil-less existence. You have inspired me and made me want to cook with the richness of flavors you describe.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

KC -- I think this melodrama is being inspired by "Five Quarters of the Orange" (Joanne Harris), which you loaned me and I am enjoying immensely. I just hope I don't become as crazy as the mother in the book...

6:17 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Sounds absolutely fabulous. I do love lentils, especially on a cold, almost-winter day.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Sofia likes lentils. I can pass on them.

Certainly, the way she prepares them is very tasty - and then I overeat. sigh.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I couldn't believe how cheap lentils and split peas were...about 49 cents a make a huge crockpot of soup!

11:00 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Lentils sound delish, especially at this time of the year, when we crave that warm stick-to-your-ribbiness (don't think that's a word, but it should be). I think that this weeks turkey base will be used to make some wonderful lentils! Thanks for the inspiration!

3:04 AM  

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