Madras Curry Lentils

Madras Curry Lentils

I have had a taste for lentils, but wanted to create a sauce with a different flavor profile than my Caponota Red Lentils or Lentil Salad.  What came to mind was a dish reminiscent of saag paneer.  I toyed with the idea of adding spinach to my Madras Curry Lentils but ultimately decided to keep the dish about the lentils and streamline the sauce.

The sauce for saag paneer often has a blend of garlic, fenugreek, garam masala, turmeric, ginger, and cayenne pepper among other spices.  I noticed that hot madras curry powder uses many of these ingredients, so as a time saving measure I opted to just use the curry blend. The heat of the spice is muted a bit by the cream sauce, but still added a good kick to the lentils.

Madras Curry Lentils

The addition of tomato and feta brightens and lightens the dish.  I also liked the creaminess that the feta added to the Madras Curry Lentils. While seeking out and adding paneer would be more in keeping with the theme of the dish, I regularly have feta on hand and thought it made a great substitute.  I’d love to hear about your variations on this recipe, whether cheese or curry substitution.

Madras Curry Lentils

1 cup lentils
4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup diced shallots
2 teaspoons hot madras curry powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup half and half
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup diced tomato
½ cup feta cheese

Place the lentils and water in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until lentils are tender.

In a separate, non-stick pan, melt the butter and add the shallots.  Saute the shallots, stirring frequently, until the shallots begin to brown (about 8 minutes). Add the curry, salt, and half and half and bring to a boil, then add the flour and stir until thickened; remove from the heat.

Drain the lentils and pour the curry sauce over the lentils, stirring to combine. Add the tomatoes and feta, stir to combine, and serve.

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Caponata Red Lentil Salad

Sometimes I feel the need to infuse more vegetables into my diet, and this week was one of those times.  Perhaps it is the generous amount of jelly beans I have eaten, or it could just be that the jewel like color of the eggplants at the grocery store were beckoning me. Whatever the reason, I stocked up on fresh eggplant, roma tomatoes, and celery.

I also happened to have my 3 year old along for the ride and he wanted to take home a sampling of nearly every bin in the bulk aisle (good thing he happened to be viewing the legume and rice side and didn’t turn around to see the gummy items in the nearby bins). I was happy to obliged and returned home with red lentils, among other dried staples.

red lentils

I decided to pair the vegetables and the lentils together for an easy to sack lunch of Caponata Red Lentil Salad. If you have never had caponata, it is an Italian dish made with eggplant and other vegetables that are coated in a sweet and sour sauce. Typically, onions, celery, tomato paste, and capers are included and the sauce is a sweetened vinegar.  I made my caponata with fresh tomatoes instead of paste to give it a lighter taste, and simply stirred in my al dente red lentils to make the salad.  It has been a refreshing lunch to pack this week, and I feel good knowing that my meal is super healthy!

Caponata Lentil Salad3

Caponata Lentil Salad

Caponata Lentil Salad

Caponata Red Lentil Salad

¼ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped celery ribs
1 large eggplant, cut into cubes (~1 pound)
1 cup diced tomato, divided
6 ½ cups water, divided
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups red lentils
1 cup chopped green olives
¼ cup capers
¾ cup red vinegar
3 Tablespoons white sugar

 

Add olive oil to a large saute pan and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for 6 minutes, then add the celery and cook for six minutes longer, stirring frequently.  Add the eggplant, half of the tomatoes, and ½ cup of water and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the remainder of the tomatoes and stir for another 10 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the lentils.  Add the 6 cups of water and salt to a 3 quart pan and bring to a boil.  Add the lentils and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender chewy but still remain their shape.  Drain the lentils and add to a large bowl.

Once the vegetables have cooked down, remove from the heat and add to the bowl with the lentils.  Add the olives and the capers to the bowl.  In a separate bowl, stir together the vinegar and sugar and then pour over the lentil mixture.  Stir the lentils to coat and mix evenly with the vegetables.  Chill before serving, preferably overnight to let the flavors marinate.

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Lentil Salad

Many people kick-off the new year with certain foods as a way to try to usher in good luck for the entire year.  For example, lentils are thought to represent wealth for the new year. While I don’t make certain meals as talisman, I do think reinvigorating my healthy meal preparation by including lentils in my cooking is a great idea. I also can’t seem to ignore the beautiful color range of the dried lentils, from salmon-pink to pale-moss-green, which beckons me to add a lentil recipe to my repertoire.

uncookedLentils

Lentils, which are high in protein and fiber, are quite easy to prepare. A quick and tasty way to try lentils is with a French style lentil salad.  The lentils are boiled in water until tender yet chewy, then drained and topped with a red wine vinaigrette.

lentilSalad3

 

lentilSalad2

The lentil salad was a satisfying and delicious addition to lunch this week, and surprisingly, enjoyed by young and old alike!


Lentil Salad

2 tablespoons olive oil
10 pearl onions, peeled and cut in half
1 ½ cups green lentils
3 cups water
½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon freshly minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
Add the olive oil to a medium sized pot and heat the oil over medium heat. Next, sauté the onions for three minutes, then add the lentils and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until tender but still chewy. Drain the lentils and add them to a bowl. In a separate small bowl, stir together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, and salt. Pour over the lentils and stir to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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