Trying to like lentils

I’ve had lentils on the brain for a few months now and have tried a few recipes but I have a problem…they don’t taste good.  I can’t figure it out—I like lots of “yucky” stuff that other people don’t like.  I can pretty much trick myself into liking anything if I know it’s good for me.  Lentils, however have been giving me a difficult time.

I am not giving up.  I WILL find a way to like you, you little dry, flavorless, mushy pebbles of yuck!

Well after all that….haha…..I made some that were decent.  It’s the third recipe I’ve tried….and the only one that was good so far.

Anybody have any good ideas or recipes?  My friend told me about a delicious one that used bacon.  Now, I can see how that would be good but since we don’t eat bacon….I need vegetarian lentil recipes I guess.

I used black beluga lentils.  I put them in the crock pot with some carrots and green beans (kind of a lot of carrots and green beans)

I also put a few (okay like ten) garlic cloves in there.

I added a beef bullion cube (this is what I like to call an unhealthy but quite necessary ingredient—U.Q.N.—you’ll see these in other recipes)

When it was done (not much more than 2 hours….I think)

I sautéed some red onions in butter (U.Q.N.) and

Chopped some fresh parsley and

Crumbled some Queso Fresco—but you probably can’t get that up in the U.S. so you can maybe use goat cheese or feta.

I didn’t but should have put some avocado slices on top—that would have been yummy!

It was quite delicilous (no that’s not a typo–that’s my word)  and very healthy.  Well….except for those U.Q.N.s in there.  I’m a big believer in “A teaspoon of sugar helps the medicine go down.”  Actually, no….I don’t believe in much medicine and sugar is never good for you so let me change it to “A teaspoon of ranch dressing helps the celery go down.”

Here’s the colorful finished product!

May 30 09 003

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17 Responses to “Trying to like lentils”

  1. Laura says:

    It looks DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!! Have you tried just soaking them and adding them to stuff?

  2. Jill says:

    The only way I really like to eat them is in a curry with carrots and peas. I have a few recipe’s around if you would like one let me know.

  3. shummer says:

    Hey Erin. We’ve always liked Alton Brown’s recipe here: We like it with more broth so we only do half the lentils and double the carrots and celery. Just use black pepper for the grains of paradise. We didn’t have a blender so we just ate it like that. Let us know how you like it.

  4. Bryce says:

    I agree with you that lentils are gross. i tend to think of them as I do other things that are dry, dense and unflavorful….. as filler. It seems like you did as well for this recipe. I was going to suggest bacon or ham like one would put in split-pea soup, but since you don’t do bacon, I would suggest the real reason for the bacon… salt, which doesn’t need to necessarily be the only flavor…. I tend to use it to enhance other flavors/spices i use. But for lentils or split peas or beans I feel like you still need a ton of salt even to just enhance other flavors and that isn’t too healthy. So my suggestion, and what I tend to do, is to just keep adding things that DO have flavor (like you did), until it’s worth eating. Throw the kitchen sink at it. Jill mentioned curry…. that’s a good suggestion too… anything that is strong and has a lot of flavor, but can you get curry in Mexico? My new favorite spice is cumin… can you get that? I am on a Moroccan kick right now because it has a ton of good flavors. It uses cumin along with any combination of cinnamon, coriander, and ginger. It also uses preserved lemons (lemon slices packed in salt in a jar for a month at least) and dried fruits, raisins, dates, etc (I like to substitute dried apricots). Oh and olives (usually green). So if you can get really any combination of the above items, you will get a lot of flavor. that’s my two cents….

  5. Erin says:

    So Mom, I haven’t done that but saw that in a raw “cook” book–I kind of forgot about that. And Jill–CURRY!!! That is a great idea! Hey Andrew—thanks! I love Alton Brown! I’m glad to know others recognize the difficulty with lentils 🙂 I’m definitely going to try this!
    And Bryce…wow I didn’t know you were such a good cook! We DO have access to curry and to cumin…in fact I rely on cumin a lot also. I think I probably put some in it but I forgot to mention spices in that recipe. You’re so right about the salt/bacon thing! I’m also very curious about the green olives…we can get those here. I would love a suggestion from you on what exactly you would do with all that stuff you mentioned and lentils. I’m definitely going to try some of this stuff all of you suggested!!! Such GREAT suggestions guys! Thank you!

  6. Laura says:

    Here’s a recipe from your childhood. Don’t remember if youliked it but you might now:
    Lentil Salad
    Cook and drain 1/2 lb lentils
    While still hot add 1/3 c. olive oil , cover and cool to room temp
    Add 3 T. wine vinegar
    1 large clove minced garlic (or 6 for you)
    1/3 c. chopped onion
    1/4 c.finely chopped red pepper
    Black pepper
    1/4 tsp. rooster sauce
    1/4 tsp. Worcestershire
    Refrigerate. uh, oh.
    Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro, and sliced green olives.
    I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t like this. It sounds pretty basic so there’s a lot of room to improvise too….which I know you like to do. Ooooh, I’ll bet it would be good topped with queso fresco!

  7. Bryce says:

    Oh, Erin, I wouldn’t say I’m a good cook, but I LOVE creating/experimenting and trying new things. I could go on for hours about cooking and food…. You may be sorry you got me started. 🙂

    A ton of things just ran through my brain to write here.. about my cooking philosophies, etc etc, but I’ll try to stick to the subject and not bore.

    Lentils. I would soak them over night like your mom suggested if only to cut down on actual cooking time. I tend to forget to soak things (beans, lentils, etc) so in the end I don’t use them much because I need to make dinner quickly. But here’s a few ideas off the top of my head…

    Soak and/or cook the lentils until tender or “edible” as I like to say. Let them cool, then add them to a salad as filler. If I recall, they are very healthy and full of fiber so you don’t need a ton to reap the health benefits. Make your favorite salad, loaded with all kinds of flavorful things, onions, tomatoes, olives (black or green or whatever), avocado, garlic, cucumber, carrots, etc etc. You know what is good and what you like. Toss in some lentils, or use as a topping like you would with garbanzo beans at the salad bar at Sizzler. To give it a Moroccan flavor, add some dried fruit of your choice, and create a dressing using some of the things I mentioned. This is how I would do it… mind you, I have made dressings before, but not this exactly…. I am going to suggest making the base of the dressing olive oil and lemon juice (rather than vinegar) only because I have not tried or tasted these spices, etc with a vinegar before, though I am confident if you added a little of your favorite vinegar, it would still taste good (I like balsamic). Oils and vinegar or juice will mix temporarily if you shake them, but I prefer to keep them together permanently by adding an emulsifier such as mustard or mayonnaise. You don’t need a lot, especially if you use mustard, because the mustard flavor can become overpowering. So for this, I would use mayo. So you have olive oil, and lemon juice and a vinegar if you want. Toss in some green olive juice too if your olives came in a jar or can, but not too much. You’ll have to do all of this to taste… Then add a little mayo, and some of the spices… Oh I forgot to telly you, that they use a lot of paprika too in moroccan cooking.

    Or it can be the base of the salad… like a bean salad… or well, like your mom just said. (I stepped away for a bit).

    I have used Lentils in soups, and i throw everything in soups, just ask Amy. Again, just use the spices I mentioned (along with a broth boullion cube or what-have-you). I like to put rice or pasta in my soups and lentils would be a good addition too.

    I thought of another thing… I have been making moroccan chicken pot pies lately that are really good. I am sure you could put lentils in it too. I will be back with the recipes I have for that… it is really good.

  8. Erin says:

    Hey Bryce I might like your cooking philosophies. I have another post about mine 🙂 Pretty much=no rules cooking 🙂 Like hippie cooking…if it feels good, do it.
    Anyway thanks for all those ideas! I tried one yesterday—I’ll write an update post but let me just say GREEN OLIVES….who’d a thought! Amazing!
    I don’t remember that recipe, Mom but I used some of that too with last night’s lentils. Thank you.

  9. Melissa says:

    Erin, I have a good lentil and rice recipe that we use as burrito filling. I got if from that blog I’ve told you about. It’s good on it’s own too but Eddie likes tortillas. Let me know what you think or if you find one that works I’d like to try it.

  10. Bryce says:

    Ok, back with my recipes. Glad to hear you liked the green olives! I thought they worked really well in different things too!

    About my cooking philosophies. I’m pretty open. My main philosophy has been, (since I was quite a young kid actually – on the receiving end of cooking), that if you like one thing, and you like a second thing, if you mix the two, you will make a third thing you like. When I tell people this, almost everyone has thought I was seriously nuts, but it really really works.

    My first experiment with this was in high school, I made myself a small bowl of spaghetti (with Ragu or whatever) and a bowl of Kraft macaroni and cheese. (This is where I lose everyone, and I’ve probably lost you to the point that you will never try any of my suggestions again). Then I mixed the two together. Besides the fact that the noodles were different, so it looked funny, it actually tasted good! It tasted like mac and cheese and marinara sauce. People put ketchup on mac n cheese. This is the same idea, only with some italian seasoning… I have been doing this ever since. I have added loose addendums to this philosophy though, like that you USUALLY need to stick to mixing items of the same course-type…. like NOT ice cream and salad (though I have never tried it and would not be opposed to trying it – pepper on vanilla ice cream is actually pretty good). Anyway, the result that most people don’t realize about my philosophy is that the two items don’t blend so much that the flavors become gross. You can usually taste both items separately in your mouth at the same time and appreciate them both. The only time this has not worked for me was early on, when I made cream of wheat topped with grape jelly, cinnamon, and brown sugar taste like play-doh.

    Anyway, I don’t know what you have available to cook with, but you talk about whole foods, etc, so you must have pretty good access to most stuff.

    This first recipe is the Very Quick and Easy Chicken Pot Pie…

    1 c. leftover cooked chicken (or turkey), cut into bite-sized pieces
    1 c. frozen mixed veggies (or really any veggies you want)
    1 can cream of chicken soup (or other cream soup, light, or reduced fat is fine too)
    1/2 soup can of milk
    Frozen pre-made pie crust (usually comes rolled or folded)

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
    Heat all ingredients until veggies are cooked to desired tenderness. More milk can be added to thin mixture if desired.
    Ladle into 4 shalow oven-proof soup bowls. Arrange pieces of pie crust on top, overlapping some and leaving some small spaces between pieces for bubbling action.
    Place bowls on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust is golden and you have good bubbling action.

    Makes 4 servings.

    My next recipe I was served at my Dad’s house, and is when I fell in love with Moroccan food. The recipe was from some food magazine and they gave me the issue to keep the recipe. I have since written it down, and now pass it along to you.

    Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

    1&1/2 lbs chicken in 1″ cubes
    1 tsp paprika (I didn’t use because I don’t have any)
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    3 Tbsp butter
    1 c. chicken broth
    1 lemon
    1 large onion in 1/2″ cubes
    1 c. green olives pitted chopped (I used green olives with pimientos cuz that’s all i could find)
    1/3 c. golden raisins (or other dried fruit)
    1 Tbsp flour
    1 refrigerated pie crust (same as above recipe)

    Preheat oven to 425F
    Mix chicken with paprika, cumin, and cinnamon in bowl to coat. Salt and Pepper
    Cut Lemon in half, scoop out pulp and juice between the membranes for 2 Tbsp worth. Add to chicken.
    Melt butter, saute onion, olives, and raisins until onion tender.
    Add chicken, stir 1 min.
    Add flour, stir 1 min
    Add broth, boil.
    Transfer to 9″ glass pie dish
    Place crust over dish, seal to edges, cut slits in crust
    Bake until crust is golden – about 20 min.

    Now, what I have done, is made the 1st recipe, which was really good and easy.

    Then another day, I made the 2nd, but added some or all of a can of cream of chicken soup to the recipe (because I like the thickness and creaminess it adds) and also the frozen veggies. Also, I skipped the raisins because I didn’t have anything like that. And I just used lemon juice rather than the pulp etc. That was WOW, and only a little more difficult.

    I think that pre-cooked lentils could easily be put in either of these recipes along with all the other stuff right before baking, though you may want to increase the amount of spices you use.

    Also, the thing I imagine you can’t get is the pie crust, though I may be wrong. Really, the crust was just a little added bonus. I would have enjoyed either recipe if just served as a soup, maybe with bread, crackers, or rolls, (or toasted tortillas) to dip, etc. Who says you have to eat it the way the recipe says, right?!

    If you make either, I hope you and the family enjoy as much as I did!!!

  11. Erin says:

    I’m thinking you should just start your own cooking blog Bryce. Seriously 🙂
    These sound great. Our philosophies are quite similar 🙂 Freedom in the kitchen!!! I think it’s because my mom let us mess around in the kitchen and with spices when we were really young. Gabe and I both are pretty confident in the kitchen…I may be too much so 🙂 I love the play dough…Maybe I’ll make that and give it to Jenna. An actual edible version of play dough!
    I love Whole Foods but the closest one to us is in TX I think 🙂 We have a Sam’s Club about 3 hours away but I can make a crust from scratch if I have to 🙂 Thanks for the recipe—I’m trying the pot pie one for sure.

  12. Amy says:

    Um, yeah, Bryce is more creative than I am, so I stay out of his way, and dinner is always an adventure!

  13. Jaime says:

    In my opinion, this is the only way to eat lentils! Even Jed love it… and that is saying a LOT! I do add more salt, though 🙂 I blend half, or a little more, and leave some chunky. Delicious with garlic bread on the side or even grilled chicken in the soup!

    Bree’s Lentil Tomato Soup
    Cooking Light, Sept, 2001

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 cups chopped onion
    1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1 teaspoon ground red pepper
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    3 1/3 cups water
    2 1/3 cups dried lentils
    1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    3 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
    1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
    Chopped fresh tomatoes (optional)
    Cilantro sprig (optional)

    1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute for 3 minutes or until tender. Add the turmeric and the next 6 ingredients (turmeric through garlic); saute for 1 minute. Add water and next 4 ingredients (water through diced tomatoes); bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 1 hour.

    2. Reserve 2 cups lentil mixture. Place half of remaining mixture in blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with other half of remaining mixture. Stir in reserved 2 cups lentil mixture. Garnish with chopped tomatoes and a cilantro sprig if desired. Yield: 11 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

    CALORIES 186 (9% from fat); FAT 1.9g (sat 0.3g, mono 1.0g; poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 14.1g; CARB 29.8g; FIBER 13.9g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 4.4mg; SODIUM 412mg; CALC 54mg

  14. Jaime says:

    Oh- and I just use fresh tomatoes!

  15. Bryce says:

    I have seriously thought about creating a blog to chronicle my kitchen adventures, but I lack the follow-through, and I want to devote more of my time to other things. I wish I didn’t have to go to sleep! That would give me more time to do things like blog.

    As far as the play-dough cream of wheat goes. I really don’t recommend it. Real Play Dough that is meant to be played with but is edible and tastes good would be cool, (imagine the red would taste like strawberries…. mmmm). But when food that should taste good, looks and tastes like something that should not be eaten but rather played with, it’s bad news and everyone should stay away. Please don’t subject her to this! It still gives me nightmares!!

    But let me know how the other recipes work if you try them!

    @Jaime – that recipe sounds great too! I’ll have to give it a try!

  16. Erin says:

    So here’s the thing…Jenna likes nasty stuff. She was just eating some sand in the back yard yesterday. I’m pretty sure she would like it. I’ll read your blog if you ever make one! About the follow-through. I understand. Good starter, poor finisher here….maybe you’re the same?
    I’ve tried a few lentil recipes and they just keep getting better and better so I’ll update this stuff soon!

  17. Erin says:

    Thanks, Jaime for that! I think cilantro would be awesome! And I’ve been trying to add more turmeric to things for the awesome health benefits! AND thanks for putting the nutrition info there. SEE the fiber!!! This is why I need to like lentils 🙂

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