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A stocked pantry is something like a gold mine when you’re hungry and you have no idea what’s for lunch. A peek into one big drawer of mine includes several kinds of dried beans, at least 5 kinds of rice, bulgar, barley, polenta, oats, couscous, farro, quinoa, a variety of dried fruits, and usually a couple of kinds of lentils. (A big bank account makes a lot of people feel secure, but I’m rich when my cabinets are full.) When I have no idea what’s to eat, lentils are my go-to. They’re easy, fast, filling, healthy as can be (see below), pair with nearly anything and in many a direction, and they’re even pretty darned inexpensive.

While I do choose to cook lentil soup quite often, one night I…

…stirred up the red lentil soup from my book and then put lamb chops right down in the middle of them.

Lamb Chops in Curried Red Lentil Soup

Another time, I made lentils for a fancy-schmancy dinner party I cooked with two restaurant chefs. I had no idea if lentils could be made into risotto, but I had little to lose…

Salmon on Lentil Risotto with Mushrooms and Fresh Greens

Sometimes they’re a salad for a hot summer night…

Puy Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad with Mustard and Thyme

or fill my need for dreaming of France:

Lentil Soup with Flageolet Beans


I can’t name all of the reasons I love lentils, but I enjoy the fact that many cultures cook with them and that they come in a variety of lovely colors:

What is dal?

French Lentil Salad from Splendid Table

Ethiopian Lentil Stew –SAVEUR

SAV (courtesy amazon. com

LENTILS….learn, love, and cook:

Protein
Did you know? When combined with a whole grain, lentils provide the same quality protein as meat!
Lentils are good source of protein. A ½ cup serving of cooked lentils provides about 12 grams of protein. With such high protein content, you are sure to be fuelled up all day long.
Fibre 
Did you know? Just 1/2 cup of cooked green lentils packs in 32% of your days’ worth of fibre!
Lentils are an excellent source of fibre. In addition to gut mobility, dietary fibre is well known for many health benefits. Notably, high intake of fibre is associated with lower blood cholesterol levels and protection against developing colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes.”

from lentils.org

Want to read about Montana lentil farmers?

Corporations are in control at the beginning of the food chain, with the seed and with the chemicals, and they’re also in control at the other end of the food chain,” says Liz Carlisle. Her book, Lentil Underground, is the story of a group of farmers in Montana who broke free of the industrial farming system by growing organic lentils.”

Splendid Table dot org

Lentil Basics from foodhero.org

Learn more at USA Pulses dot org


Now that you’re nearly as lentil crazy as me, you should try this. And, oh, by the way, it’ll fit in your Meatless Monday routine, cut your grocery bill, feed your vegan friend or even your gluten-free sister if you leave out the crouton garnish.

(Nutritional info below recipe)

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND LENTIL SOUP

This is a beautiful vegan soup just as it is, but if you’d like an even lighter version, skip the coconut milk. I liked it both ways! For gluten-free diets, leave off the croutons.
Servings: 6
Author: More Time at the Table

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 each, diced: small yellow onion, small shallot, garlic clove, and medium fennel bulb Reserve fronds for garnish
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth 32 ounces
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 ounces peeled diced butternut squash (2 cups)
  • ¾ cup rinsed green or brown lentils
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • ½ cup lite coconut milk
  • 12-18 freshly fried croutons see below, optional

Instructions

  • In a 6-quart dutch oven, heat oil and crushed red pepper over medium heat for a minute. Add onion, shallot, garlic, fennel and parsley; season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Pour in white wine, turn down heat to medium-low and cover, cooking, stirring regularly, for about 7 minutes or until vegetables are softening. Pour in broth and water; cover, raise heat, and bring to a boil. Stir in squash, lentils, curry powder, cumin, and a dash or two of hot sauce. Reduce heat so that the vegetables are boiling gently and cook for 30-40 minutes or until squash is tender and the lentils are done, but still have a little bite. You want them to maintain some of their texture, not to be mushy. Stir in coconut milk and let heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with croutons and fennel fronds, torn or chopped.

Notes

CROUTONS: Dice 3 pieces of baguette into ½-1-inch pieces. Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat with a ¼ inch of canola or olive oil. When hot, fry the croutons in 2 or 3 batches, turning the pieces over as they brown, watching them carefully to avoid burning. Remove to a paper towel-lined bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and reserve until needed.
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2019. All rights reserved.


WINE: Simplest–an inexpensive Washington Riesling. Step up: a German Grüner Veltliner.

Nutrition Facts (excludes crouton garnish)
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 151 
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4 g6 %
Saturated Fat 2 g9 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg0 %
Sodium 344 mg14 %
Potassium 514 mg15 %
Total Carbohydrate 22 g7 %
Dietary Fiber 5 g22 %
Sugars 6 g
Protein 4 g9 %
Vitamin A 137 %
Vitamin C 44 %
Calcium 7 %
Iron 12 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
(Fitness Pal dot com)

IF YOU LIKED THIS, you might like my…

Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Soup


Once in a while, someone asks me what I keep in my fridge. The more apropos question might be, “What don’t you keep in your fridgES?” Well, here is my kitchen refrigerator, which is made by VIKING. I keep an extra old fridge in the garage for storage and beer and there are also two wine fridges–one in the dining room and one in our bedroom. I’m shameless, but I got cold stuff.

Stay warm and cook soup,

Alyce