Oh, lovely Lentils...
Did you know that 26% of calories from lentils are protein and that they have the third-highest level of protein by weight, of any plant-based food after soybeans and hemp? Lentils also contain dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B1, numerous essential minerals and are also one of the best vegetable sources of iron that we have. To top all of this off...they happen to be delicious!
I had been given a huge bag of lentils when my friend's sister moved from San Francisco, so I decided to wash and soak them quickly (always wash your lentils first), and jumped blindly into improvising some type of spicy Indian-inspired dinner. I ran to the market and bought some organic orange habenero peppers and ginger along with some other fresh veggies to throw into the mix. The plan was to eventually lay over whatever I created over the brown rice I had going on the back burner.
Once I brought my lentils to a boil (1 cup of lentils- 2 cups water) in a big pot, I reduced the heat to medium and threw in half of a sliced onions, a few smashed cloves of garlic, 2 tbls chopped ginger, and two diced habenero peppers to get the spices flowing. After 10 minutes or so, I started throwing in some vegetables including sliced crimini mushrooms, chopped asparagus, carrots, zucchini, and red bell pepper.
After about 45 minutes or so, I added fresh basil, spinach, salt, pepper, chili-flakes, cinnamon, cayenne, a lot of curry, and fresh-squeezed orange juice to flavor and balance. I started muddling it up a little bit with my kitchen masher, and increased the heat to try both to get rid of the excess liquid and get it ready for serving up!
I had not been able to deny these fresh organic peaches at the market (Thank you stone fruit season!) so I decided to make a fresh peach salsa/chutney to go on top. I diced some fresh basil and 1/4 of a habenero pepper and mixed it with two cut up peaches and olive oil, sea salt and lemon. Oh, the ways I love a sweet and spicy combo!
I piled a big scoop of my brown rice in my favorite bowl, followed it with my spicy delicious lentil concoction, and topped it off with a helping of habenero peach salsa. This took a lot longer than I had initially planned but boy was it worth it!
I had cooked WAY too much, so the following night I invited the roommates and a bunch of friends over for dinner and I re-made it into a creamier Indian-like lentil curry. I threw it all in the food processor and and re-heated in in a pot with sauteed onions and garlic and added two more bunches of spinach and some basil. I added more curry, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cayenne, chili-peppers, lemon and a splash of hemp milk to add to the creaminess. I also re-heated the rice in the oven and served it all up with some Naan from the local market. It was definitely a left-over success!