Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Easy Lentils

I love cooking with lentils.  Unlike most other dried beans, lentils do not require over-night soaking, so they are great to have on hand when sudden dinner inspiration strikes (OK, well, this is how I like to refer to those times when I have not planned in advance...).

Here is a simple way to prepare lentils for a warming meal on a cold winter's night:

1 lb lentils, rinsed (also, sort through and make sure there are no little stones in there)
water (enough to cover lentils by about 1-2 inches, when they are in a pot)
3 bay leaves
olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery with leaves, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

After thoroughly rinsing lentils, place in large pot and cover with water (water level should be about 1-2 inches over lentils)
Add whole bay leaves to lentils
Cover pot, bring to boil at medium to high heat
Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, checking on water level from time to time to make sure that lentils do not "cook dry", adding water if necessary (There should be enough liquid when the lentils are cooked to resemble a thick soup)
While lentils are simmering, in a separate pan, saute the onion, garlic and celery in a little bit of olive oil until transparent
After lentils have finished simmering, add onion mixture to pot with salt and pepper.  
Allow to simmer another 10 minutes
Remove all bay leaves
Serve and enjoy

Lentils can be eaten as a thick soup or served over some brown rice or quinoa.  For extra flavor, top with some browned onions and hot sauce.

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