I find it endearing that the optical lens is names after the lentil (Latin for "lens"), whose shape it echoes. The big up side to cooking with lentils is that they are substantial, filling, highly nutritious, and relatively quick to cook. They are great cooked into stews, mashed into spreads, molded into croquettes of all sizes, and mixed into grain-based salads. Plus, unlike most dried beans, they require no pre-soaking. They're also a lot of fun to sprout. Some varieties of lentils hold their shape, while others have a tendency to turn quickly to mush. I've found that peppery green Le Puy lentils from France, hold their shape nicely, as do black beluga lentils. I'm often tempted by the vibrant hues of the red and yellow varieties, but because they lose structure so quickly they are best in pureed soups or more traditional Indian preparations., such as dal. Don't let their diminutive size fool you; lentils have one of the richest protein profiles of any vegetable, backed up with super-sized levels of iron, fiber, and folate.
An absolute favorite lentil soup! A friend turned me onto this Ayurvedic dal recipe from the Esalen Cookbook years ago. Red lentil based, curry-spiced coconut broth with back notes of ginger and tomato, with slivered green onions, and curry-plumped raisins.
Have you seen the little book, Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal? It's great on many fronts, and I made these Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil from it.
These simple, wine-glazed lentils, from Deborah Madison, saw me through my twenties, and then my thirties. I made them often in my first solo apartment in San Francisco. And, because they travel well, they've kept me well-fed on a range of flights...
A few outtakes from the winter Kinfolk magazine shoot/article I worked on with Wayne. Plus the Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter featured in the photos.
Healthy, quick, and satisfying this lentil soup recipe delivers layer after layer of flavor. The tang of the tomatoes plays off the earthiness of the lentils, and the fragrant bolt of saffron yogurt brightens each bowl.
A chunky, satisfying, winter-time riff on potato chowder - winking at the Japanese pantry with a finishing swirl of miso, and a touch of sake in the base.
I have one more day in Hong Kong before flying back to San Francisco, and I thought I'd jot off a quick post for those of you who like to see what I pack to eat when I travel. Red lentil dumplings flared out with roasted cherry tomatoes, and a simple smoked paprika and garlic oil.
Traditional and tasty, this soup is a test of patience and restraint. If you're easily distracted, skip it. If you can mind a pot, stirring, singularly-focused, for a half hour, perhaps longer, you'll be rewarded with a beautiful, vegetarian version of the herbed, Persian yogurt soup, Ashe Mast.
A few snapshots from Mexico City & an avocado salad - thinly sliced avocado arranged over simple lentils, drizzled with oregano oil, toasted hazelnuts, and chives.
An earthy, turmeric and mustard-spiked lentil soup served over brown rice with spinach and thick yogurt.
An amazing New Year Noodle Soup from Greg & Lucy Malouf's beautiful book, Saraban. It's a bean and noodle soup at its core featuring thin egg noodles swimming in a fragrant broth spiced with turmeric, cumin, chiles, and black pepper. You use a medley of lentils, chickpeas, and borlotti beans which makes the soup heart and filling without being heavy. You add spinach, dill, and cilantro. You add lime juice for a bit of sour at the end. And then you've got a number of toppings to add when you serve the soup - chopped walnuts, caramelized onions, and sour cream. Amazing.
An anise and ginger-spiked French lentil soup, from a charming little cookbook I stumbled on titled SoupLove. The broth is thickened by lots of roasted winter squash, and it's great with lots of garlicky croutons.
A palak daal recipe from Kasa's Anamika Khanna - a hearty pot of spinach, lentils, and spices. Kasa is a favorite Indian restaurant of mine here in San Francisco.
A single-pot lentil soup with brown rice. Made by browning some onions, adding the rest of the ingredients, and simmering until the whole lot until its done.
The best pot of chili I've made in years. A vegetarian chili recipe Inspired by a bunch of those little bags of remnant grains and pulses that collect in my cupboards - bulgur, farro, and lentils, join chile peppers, crushed tomatoes, some chickpeas, and a secret ingredient.
A good cold-weather stir-fry recipe. Tiny potatoes, brussels sprout wedges, toasted almonds and lentils are served with a drizzle of mint and a bit of thinned-out, salted plain yogurt, and a sprinkling of chopped dates.
This bean salad recipe salad features pretty heirloom beans along with a few black lentils, splashed with a brightly-flavored ginger-curry vinaigrette.
Tasty, hearty vegetarian lentil burger recipe. Slathered with saffron yogurt and stuffed with avocado, lettuce, and onions.
This has become one of my favorite crostini recipes - goat cheese, black beluga lentils, and chives on garlic-rubbed crostini.