Tag Archives: lentils

Easy Lentil Chili

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One evening after work last week, Bruce and I had quite the discussion on how we wanted to eat healthier meals in the New Year.  We talked about eating more vegetarian dishes and avoiding white bread, white sugar and most the most damaging thing of all, fast food.  Our conversation was not about making any resolutions, it was all about making some positive lifestyle changes.  I particularly liked that idea for I don’t believe in resolutions.  I know that when I make New Year’s resolutions, you can bet that I will break them within a few short months.

One of the challenges with cooking healthy meals in our home is finding dishes that both Bruce and I will enjoy.  For instance, I love ingredients such as kidney beans, green peas, fresh picked asparagus and mushrooms.  Bruce on the other hand, will not (knowingly) eat those foods.  He considers them taboo.  And trust me…  He has quite the list of “taboo” ingredients.  So, in order to accomplish preparing a meal that I know that Bruce will like, I sometimes have to get really creative and super stealthy.  That sometimes means chopping the forbidden ingredients into smaller pieces, not telling Bruce what he is “really” eating unless he asks and putting the focus on creating fabulous flavor profiles that distracts his attention.  In other words, out of site, out of mind is the key when preparing a dish for Bruce.

While shopping at Trader Joe’s last week I found a package of precooked lentils in the produce section of the store.  Fortunately, after about ten years of marriage, Bruce has finally warmed to the idea of eating lentils.  Unlike Bruce, I have always loved lentils and with our busy lives this precooked ingredient was something that I just had to try.  I figured that the precooked lentils would be delicious in salads or soups for lunch during the work week.  This evening, I opted to put the lentils in a quick chili for dinner.  As a result, I am glad that I did.  Bruce absolutely loved it!  And the cool part about all this was that he did not notice that he just ate a meal that was hearty, and high in fiber and iron.  And, as a final double bonus, it was vegetarian and cholesterol free!

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My Easy Lentil Chili is super simple to make, incredibly flavorful and tastes great with fresh baked cornbread and a leafy green salad on the side.  Garnish my Easy Lentil Chili with some shredded cheddar cheese, a little dollop of light sour cream, a spoonful of salsa and a sprinkling of fresh chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 17 oz. package Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils (about 2 1/2 cups, cooked)
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (or more if desired)
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 Tbs flour (whisked with 1/2 cup stock to make a slurry)
  • 2 Tbs extra dark cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs dark chili powder
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • Top with shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream or fresh cilantro (optional)

In a medium sized pot on medium flame, cook onions in canola oil until onions are translucent. Add 1/2 package of lentils, vegetable stock, coffee, flour slurry, extra dark cocoa powder, dark chili powder, brown sugar, garlic paste, cumin, sriracha, thyme, salt and pepper.  Turn down the heat, cook uncovered on low for about 30 – 40 minutes stirring occasionally, taking care not to burn the chili.  Add remaining lentils and cook covered for an additional 15 minutes.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa and/or chopped cilantro.  Makes about 4 servings.

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A Winter Weekend in the Cascade Mountains and Chicken Lentil Soup

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Chicken Lentil Soup 

I love living in Southern Oregon.  One of my favorite things to do during the winter months is to visit the Cascade Mountains.  This year our family and friends stayed in some cabins up at Hyatt Lake over the weekend.  Hyatt Lake is about an hour drive from our home but in snowy weather, it may take twice as long.  There was at least 3 feet of fluffy snow on the ground and the temperature was a bone chilling 16 degrees.   The only way we could get up to our cabins was with four wheel drive pickup trucks for there was nearly 10 miles of narrow snow packed roads.

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A view up towards the summit.

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Along the edge of Hyatt Lake.  The lake was frozen over.  During the summer months, Hyatt Lake is known for its wonderful trout fishing and camping.

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A view across the lake.  The ice on the lake was only a few inches thick and covered with snow.  We would not dare walk out onto the lake for it was too risky and dangerous.

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Sunset in the forest.  It was eerily quiet.  The only noise that we heard was the snow dropping off the branches of the trees.  There were no birds, squirrels or any signs of wildlife. The birds either migrated south or are spending the winter in the valley below. Other animals such as black bear, skunks and squirrels are hibernating in their dens.  Deer, cougars and elk generally find their way down to the warmer lower elevations during the cold winter months.

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A view from the top of the mountain.  You can see the ski resort at Mount Ashland in the background.

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Snow covered Chinquapin Mountain. In late spring, when the snow has melted, Chinquapin Mountain is one of my favorite places to hunt for Morel mushrooms.  When I get some mushrooms this year, I’ll be sure to post some delicious Morel mushroom recipes.

After spending a cold day in the snow, my Chicken Lentil Soup is a perfect way to warm up. My Chicken Lentil Soup is made with locally grown organic green Laird Lentils, carrots, onions, celery, chunks of tender chicken and flavored with my homemade Garam Masala Spice Blend.  It’s easy to make, tastes delicious, and as an added bonus, it’s really good for you too!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Laird lentils (washed and picked over)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs Garam Masala spice blend
  • 1 12 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound cooked chicken (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan with a lid, saute onion, carrots, celery and red bell pepper in olive oil.  Cook until onions are translucent and tender.  Add lentils, Garam Masala, tomatoes, garlic and chicken stock.  Cook on low heat until lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.  Add cooked chicken about 10 minutes before lentils are done.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Serve hot with crusty bread.  Makes about 4 servings.

*Note:  I used precooked chicken that I found in the deli section of my favorite store.  I added the chicken towards the end of the cooking process because I wanted the chicken to stay tender.

Lentil Chicken Sausage Soup

Lentil Chicken Sausage Soup

Technically it’s spring here in Southern Oregon. The operative word is “technically”…  It did not feel like spring because today was just gray and rainy.  To add to the annoyance, Bruce and I were out of town over the weekend and when we came home late Monday, we were low on groceries.  We were out of milk, bread, and other basic necessities.  Missing key ingredients in my kitchen makes it tough to make a decent dinner for a busy weeknight.

Fortunately, I always keep lentils, yellow onions, chicken stock and fresh celery on hand.  I also had a half pound of fully cooked asiago cheese red pepper chicken sausages in my freezer.  Before I left for work early this morning, I snagged my little slow cooker from the cupboard, plugged it in, tossed in my ingredients, and turned it on low.  All in all, I spent about 10 minutes assembling dinner.  When I got home from work, I grabbed a couple of bowls, fished out the bay leaf and garnished the soup with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  It was simply delicious! It was ridiculously easy to make and I got two thumbs up from Bruce. Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils (picked over and rinsed)
  • 1/2 pound chicken sausage links (chopped)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt or to taste
  • water if necessary
  • garnish with grated Parmesan cheese

Grab a slow cooker.  Add all ingredients except for seasoning salt, water and garnishes.  Cook on low covered for 6 – 8 hours.  Add water if the soup is too thick for your liking.  Add seasoning salt.  Taste your soup and correct your seasonings.  Ladle up and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.  Makes about 4 servings.

Sloppy “Lentil” Joes

Sloppy “Lentil” Joes

I have got to tell you that a Sloppy Joe is one of the very first dishes I ever learned how to make.  A Sloppy Joe is without a doubt an American “kid friendly” sandwich.  If you never had a Sloppy Joe, it is a tasty, messy burger made with ground beef and a tangy sweet tomato sauce.  To make a Sloppy Joe, all you have to do is brown up some ground beef, add some Sloppy Joe sauce, ladle on a burger bun and there’s dinner.  Easy.

I was in the mood the other day for a Sloppy Joe sandwich and I had no ground beef stashed in the freezer.  I did not even have ground bison or turkey either.  However, I had lentils in my cupboard…  I had heard of people preparing Sloppy Joes with lentils before and I knew that when lentils are cooked they have a meaty like texture. So, I made my standard Sloppy Joe sauce and added cooked lentils instead of beef.  I tasted it and it was good!

When Bruce came home that evening, I told him that I made these for our dinner.  He gave me his me his famous dirty look and quickly reminded me that he hated beans.  I looked back at him, smiled, handed him his Sloppy “Lentil” Joe sandwich, crossed my fingers, and said “sorry hon, I forgot”.  I then watched him out of the corner of my eye while he ate the sandwich.  And get this… He looked as if he liked it!  After he was finished, he said that he thought it was really good and that he almost forgot that there were lentils in it.  I guess he’ll eat beans now  :).

My recipe for Sloppy “Lentil” Joes is easy to make, completely meatless and healthy for you.  Not to mention, they are wickedly good.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown lentils (rinsed and picked over)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup tomato ketchup
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp kitchen bouquet (browning sauce for color)
  • salt to taste
  • 4 to 6 whole wheat burger buns
  • garnish with pickles

Begin by cooking the lentils and water in a sauce pan on covered on medium low for about a half an hour or until the lentils are cooked to your liking.  I did not add salt to the lentils for I heard that salt toughens up the beans. Drain.  Mash lightly with potato masher.

Meanwhile, in skillet or pan, saute the onions and bell pepper in olive oil.  Cook until onions are opaque.  Add remaining ingredients except for the lentils, burger buns and pickles.  Cook on medium low, covered, for about the same amount of time as the lentils, stirring occasionally.  When the lentils are done, add to the tomato mixture, taste, and correct your seasonings.  Add water if necessary.  Ladle on warmed whole wheat burger buns, garnish with pickles and serve.  Makes 4 to 6 Sloppy “Lentil” Joes.

Ras El Hanout Lentil Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ras El Hanout Lentil Soup

A couple of weekends ago while visiting my son up at the University, I found at a local store an aromatic spice blend called Ras El Hanout.  I never heard of Ras El Hanout before until I read the recipe for “Fatima’s Lentils with Spiced Cured Pork Shoulder” at one of my favorite food blogs called Cooking in Sens.  I did a bit of poking around the web and found that Ras El Hanout is of North African origin (Moroccan) and literally means “top of the shop”.  I also learned that there are hundreds of variations of Ras El Hanout and there is really no one original recipe.  The Ras El Hanout that I purchased is a blend of ginger, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.  I am fairly confident that it wont take me long to figure out how to make a similar spice mix myself for use at a later date…

A couple of months back I promised my son I would post recipes using a slow cooker.  If you don’t already know, using a slow cooker for meal preparation is perfect for busy college students.  Just toss in the ingredients, turn on low, go study, come back about 7 hours later and dish up.  My son G (that really is his nickname) loves Indian and Asian inspired dishes and I am sure that he will like this simple recipe.   This easy slow cooker soup is made with lentils, carrots, onion, celery, tomatoes, garlic, chicken stock and the wonderfully exotic Ras El Hanout spice blend.   Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried lentils (picked over and washed well)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (12.5 ounce)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbls. Ras El Hanout
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

Begin by picking over and washing the lentils well.  Place all ingredients in the slow cooker.  Put on low for 7-8 hours or 4 hours on high.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with your favorite naan or flat bread.  Makes about 2 quarts soup.