Lentils are relatively a new thing for me. I've known of them for years, and off and on I've tried lentil recipes that worked out. My biggest problem with them is getting the texture right. I don't care for the blown out, mushy results I typically get when I cook up a bag. I've told myself every time I overcook the lentils that I'm making soup instead. Of coarse, I can only sell that line to myself only many times.
I got my hands on some Spanish Lentils at the foodie mart. Every time I go to the foodie mart, I pick up one or two items that I've never tried or have never seen before. This is my idea of living on the edge. When I was in my twenties, I bungee jumped, rode jet skis, played frisbee golf, and went dancing all hours of the night. In my forties, I shop for unfamiliar healthy foods. (It's okay to laugh at this sadness. I do.)
What was I saying before? Oh yeah! I made another attempt on lentils the other day using the Spanish Lentils. Before I got started, I disregarded every recipe I had ever read or tried to follow, and went off every mistake I kept making. And you know what? I FINALLY got a pan of lentils I liked! They weren't mushy at all. They still had a bite and not one was undercooked. And the earthy flavor that lentils typically have, I was able to mask with cumin, chili powder, bell pepper, onion, and garlic. To make my efforts into a well-rounded bowl of nutritional goodness, I added in cooked red quinoa. Perfecto! Well, for me anyhow.
HERE'S WHAT I DID
Enough for 2 healthy servings
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly sliced
- 1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon New Mexico Chili Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup dry Spanish Lentils, rinsed
- 2 cups water
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the garlic, bell pepper, and onion in a thin layer of water until tender. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, cook for 1 minute, constantly stirring. Add the lentils and water. Give it a good stir. Allow the liquid to come to a gentle simmer, NOT bubbling in any way. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook with the gentlest simmer ever. Like scalding milk kind of simmer. It should take from 15 minutes to 20 minutes to get them just right. Do NOT stir the lentils. Start taste testing for tenderness at the 15 minute mark. Seventeen minutes was perfect for me.
Spanish lentils are tee-iny lentils. The smallest I've seen, so far. That's why it doesn't take long for them to cook and why I didn't want them in rolling boiling water. It's too easy to blow out small legumes.
If you ever come across them in a store, I definitely recommend you give them a whirl. I'm going to make another batch to use for bean burgers. I can't wait. My husband prefers lentils for bean burgers over all the other beans.