Lentils for breakfast- welcome

Here is your invitation to sample beautiful recipes that are good for you, good for the planet and good to eat. They mainly feature plants, because that's what I try to eat the most. I am not a fancy cook, but I believe that food is one of our greatest pleasures and deserves to be celebrated. Real food, whole food, kind food. Welcome to the feast!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Lentilicious - slow-carb in a packet

When we were in Byron Bay recently I bought a packet of an 'Easy Lentil Meal'. Very intriguing. It's a product from a company called Lentilicious, made by people 'passionate about healthy eating and vegetarian cuisine'. They offer a selection of lentil-friendly flavours: lime, turmeric, coconut, Mediterranean and - the one I chose - red chilli.

Back in Sydney, I cooked them up. Now I generally cook everything from scratch, which means I can spend hours in the kitchen as I'm not terribly efficient. I seem to only know how to make things complicated when it comes to cooking. So, opening a packet, adding some water and then, 25 minutes later, having a lovely batch of lentils all ready to go seems way like cheating. Non-perfectionist. But dangerously easy and delicious. Just added my steamed spinach and roasted sweet potato - had to do some work -  and breakfast was done.

Well - for 3 days. The packet only made 3 serves, and at $7.95 is a little too ex-y to become a habit (back to the chopping and peeling for me). But the ingredients are all natural and there are no fillers or dodgy preservatives. Lentilicious is clearly made according to someone's principles and is a meal-in-a-packet-with-heart. I certainly intend to explore the other flavours.

Who knew you could buy dinner in a packet

It seems to me from my avid reading of lentil recipes in the last few weeks that there are 3 main ways to cook 'em. One: prepare the spices and aromatics, add the lentils to coat, then finish cooking in liquid. Two: add the spices and aromatics to the lentils while they're bubbling away. Three: prepare the spices and aromatics and then pour over cooked lentils. The method I usually follow is the first one. But because I fry the onion, ginger and spices and then add a load of lentils to the frying-pan, I use the large, heavy one. The one that is so heavy I can't hold it in my left hand to tip the lentils into a saucepan once they're coated in the onion-ginger-spice mixture. It's always an awkward transition.

So today I tried a recipe of Jude's that called for method #2. It's actually a recipe for a lentil shepherd's pie from Wholefood, just minus the mashed potato. It has French herbs for flavour and I added baked parsnip, swede and sweet potato for wintery heartiness. I added peas way too early so they're now grey-green. It's a recipe that really calls for Puy lentils, but I substituted what I had in the cupboard: channa dal chikka and red lentils. They were a colourful mix at the start, but just a sludgy greige now. But the final result tastes beautiful, and the method was slightly easier and less time-consuming than usual. Have to say, I didn't miss peeling and chopping ginger and coriander this week. Here it is.

1 1/3 cups of brown or green lentils (not dal, darls, believe me)
2 fresh bay leaves (I used dried: fresh ones are not that easy to source)
1 onion, finely chopped
pinch of mixed dried herbs (I used Herbie's Italian blend)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
about 2 cups of finely chopped vegies
1 tablespoon genmai miso (I used shiro, don't like genmai)

Put lentils in heavy-based saucepan with bay leaves and cover with 2-3 cm of water or stock. Cook over low heat for 30 mins.
Heat I tablespoon of oil in a frying pan (didn't have to use the big one). Add the onions and herbs and saute for 2-3 mins.
Add the onion mixture to the cooking lentils along with chopped vegies and miso (I added mine later because I roasted them first to intensify their sweetness but I added the peas here). Check the liquid level, add extra if it is low, and continue to cook on gentle heat for 20 mins. Add the peas. (Oops.) Done!

The black and orange lentils looked so colourful - before I started.

What about you? Perfectionist or slap-happy in the kitchen? Open a packet, or grind your own spices? Speak up! And check out Lentilicious.

Are there orange lentils in there?! When did everything turn greige?

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