Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cooking with lentils

When most people hear that we cook almost all of our food from scratch, they think that we must spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Compared to most people, I guess they're right, but we don't spend that much time in the kitchen. After all, we do have a homestead to run, so most of our meals are fairly quick and simple to make. Since they're made from real food, they're also healthy and inexpensive.

Several times a week, we eat beans. Although many beans, like pintos, garbanzas, and black beans, have to be soaked before cooking, lentils and split peas are so small they can cook without being soaked first. This is especially good for those days when I don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, or when I forgot to soak beans ahead of time.

My idea of convenience food is buying a box of spices at the Indian grocery store in Bloomington. I consider it a convenience because it has all the spices I need in one box. I only have to measure one spice blend instead of a dozen individual spices. Last night, we had chana dal masala for dinner, which simply required cooking lentils and rice, sauteeing some onions and tomatoes and adding the spices. It was so easy that Katherine was able to take over after I had to go to bed with a migraine.

Earlier this week, I made a lentil loaf. This recipe comes from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, 1988. I love older cookbooks because their recipes are made with real foods and don't take much time to prepare. Too many of today's cookbooks either have too many packaged ingredients or take hours to prepare. I have neither hours nor packaged foods, so I prefer the older cookbooks.

Lentil Loaf

Cook 1 1/2 cups rinsed lentils in 3 1/2 cups water until tender. Partially mash lantils and mix with 2 onions that have been fried in 1/4 cup oil. Add to lentils and onions:
2 cups cooked rice
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup catsup or barbecue sauce (we use barbecue sauce)
1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. marjoram
Press into an oiled loaf pan and spread catsup or barbecue sauce on top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.

This post is part of my continuing series on cooking with beans. You can also read
Bean Basics, Split Pea Soup, and Pintos: My Favorite Beans.


Henwhisperer said...

Yay! Lentil loaf for supper tonight. Thanks a billion for the recipe.

jonathan said...

Cooking lentils into good dishes is not easy for a beginner like me. Thank you for your idea!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Thanks for a vegan recipe! We're not vegans but have friends that are, and my lentil loaf recipe (very good, from my MIL) calls for eggs and evaporated milk. I'm going to double this for a couple potlucks we have this weekend!

Henwhisperer said...

Loved the resulting dish of the lentil loaf. I had some kale in the fridge and frizzled it with the onions and added that to the lentils and brown rice. It was enjoyed by my husband and son.

Deborah said...

I'm glad you've found the recipe helpful, Jonathan and Michelle. And I'm even happier to hear that your family loved it, Henwhisperer! I'm not a fan of barbecue sauce, but that's how my husband first fixed this many year ago, and to this day, I LOVE this with the barbecue sauce. It just really seems to work.

Mom L said...

I'm not a fan of cooking, but I love lentils. Once I get settled in Iowa I plan to try this out!

Nancy - still in Atlanta


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