My relationship with lentils is a new one, but after developing this week’s meal kit plan with lentils as the star, I have truly developed a love for these little guys. The truth is, I never really ate them and definitely never cooked with them before. There was no particular reason, I just never grew up eating them, was never a vegetarian, and frankly never thought they were going to be that tasty. But then my husband, Dave, decided to be a vegetarian for 30days. He listened to Matt Cutts’ Ted Talk, Try Something new for 30 Days, where Matt talked about how to slow down life to better enjoy it and one way to do that was to tackle 30-day-challenges for yourself. Now, Dave has been a happy meat eater all his life and has never gone on any sort of diet restriction – ever – so this was truly an exercise in discipline. I, as the loving and supportive wife, started cooking vegetarian and this is how we welcomed lentils into our kitchen and into our lives.
Ok, so Lentils are not just a vegetarian staple, they are actually VERY versatile and very healthful. They have high levels of soluble fiber, so they are important for helping keep cholesterol low, supporting heart health and they great for digestive health. Lentils are also high in protein, and a good source of iron.
So, if you love lentils, you will love these recipes! If you are a newcomer to the world of lentils, try these surprisingly delicious and versatile recipes and I promise, you will be Loving Lentils too!
dinner #1 – Korean Lentils with cabbage & carrots rice bowl
In this first meal, lentils are transformed into such a flavorful dish that is a little bit sweet, a little bit salty and a LOT of yum! Its also quick and easy with the lentils going into one pot and the cabbage and carrots easily roasting in the oven. Combine into a rice plate or bowl for a delicious and healthful Korean dinner.
dinner #2 – Zucchini Lentil cakes with lemon yogurt sauce & tomato quinoa salad
These hearty, but yet light and delicious zucchini, lentil cakes are so satisfying. Each bite is filled with creaminess from the zucchini and parmesan and texture from the lentils. Dip in the zesty lemon yogurt sauce and I swear you will not be able to stop eating these! To round out the meal, a nourishing and simple quinoa salad with tomatoes that burst in your mouth to give a meal filled with so many flavors and textures, you will love it.
dinner #3 – Golden Summer Lentil Soup
Our last stop on the lentils tour is an amazingly creamy, rich, tasty, and healthy soup – a Golden soup! Lentils are not the only star here; however, Turmeric plays an important role in giving this soup the amazing yellowish-orange-golden color. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory so not only does it bring flaor and color, but it also has healing benefits! So, this is really the ultimate soup…lentils, turmeric, tomatoes, and did I mention spinach?? But seriously, it also tastes light and fresh and delicious!
Loving Lentils Week - Shopping List
Lentils are a vegetarian staple because they are very versatile and healthy. They have high levels of soluble fiber and protein, and are a good source of iron. These 3 delicious and versatile recipes use Lentils in very different ways so you can reap the benefits without getting tired of the same flavors or textures. Here you have 1 Shopping list for the 3 Lentil meals. For any item with a * buy the smallest pack available if you do not already have this.
- 16 oz Red Lentils 1 bag
- 1 Head Garlic 4 cloves
- 1 Tomato small
- 1 Large Yellow Onion
- 1 Bunch Scallion/Green Onions or 5-6 onions
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Head Red cabbage, small 1 ½ cups shredded
- 1 Carrot, medium or 1 small package or pre-shredded carrots
- 1 Zucchini, large
- 5 oz Baby Spinach 1 (5oz) package
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese freshly grated
- 8 oz Greek Yogurt
- Basmati Rice*
- Sesame seeds*
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes*
- Ground Turmeric*
- Ground Cumin*
- Soy Sauce*
- Ground Ginger*
- Sesame Oil*
- Olive Oil*
- 15 oz Diced Tomatoes 1 (15oz) can
- 15 oz Coconut milk 1 (15oz) can
- 3 cans Low-sodium vegetable broth
Loving Lentils - Prep-Ahead
These are the steps that you can do ahead of time to make your life easier on the nights you cook these meals. I like to prep-ahead on Sunday morning and cook my first meal on Monday night after work.
- 3/4 cup cooked lentils drained (cook according to directions on bag)
- Garlic 1 head (4 cloves)
- Large Yellow Onion 1
- Scallion green onions, 1 Bunch or 5-6 onions
- Red cabbage 1 small head or 1 ½ cups from salad bar
- Carrot 1 medium or 1 small package or pre-shredded carrots
- Zucchini 1 large
Prepare and store in refrigerator
Lentils for Lentil Cakes: Cook ¾ cup red lentils according to package. Let cool.
Mince 4 cloves of garlic
Dice Yellow onion
Chop 5 Scallions (green onions) into thin slices
Cut 1 ½ Cups of Red Cabbage into small shreds
In a small bowl, grate zucchini using the large holes of the grater. Squeeze the water out and discard water.
Rinse ½ cup quinoa and then add to 1 cup of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer, cover and let cook for 20min. Let cool.
Korean Lentils with Cabbage & Carrots Rice Bowl
- ¼ Cup + 1 Tbls. Soy Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
- 2 Cloves of Garlic minced
- 1 tsp ground Ginger
- 2 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
- ½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Tbls Olive Oil
- 1 Cup red Lentils
- 3 Scallions/Green Onions chopped
- 1 Tbls Sesame Seeds
- 1 ½ Cups red cabbage shredded
- 1 ½ cups shredded carrots
- 1 cup uncooked rice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cook 1 cup raw rice according to package instructions.
Place shredded cabbage on a sheet pan, drizzle with 1 tsp. sesame oil, salt, pepper, then toss to coat and push to 1 half of the pan. In the other half of the pan, place the shredded carrots with 1 tbls soy sauce and 1 tsp olive oil, then toss to combine. Roast for 20 minutes.
In a medium bow, mix together all the sauce ingredients: 2 cups water, ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 Tbls. honey, minced garlic, 1 tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. sesame oil, ½ tsp. red pepper flakes.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until the onion softens and begins to brown. Now add the lentils and the sauce. Cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked and tender, and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
Serve by spooning over rice, and garnishing with the green onions and sesame seeds.
Zucchini Lentil cakes with lemon yogurt sauce & tomato quinoa salad
- 1 large zucchini 2 cups grated
- 1/4 cup scallion finely sliced
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- 3/4 cup cooked lentils drained (cook according to directions on bag)
- 1/2 cup flour
- ½ cup parmesan freshly grated
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 lemon
- ½ cup Quinoa uncooked
- 1 small tomato
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Take lentils out of fridge and bring to room temperature. Using fork, mash lentils before adding to zucchini mixture.
Add ¼ cup scallion finely sliced (save 1 Tbls for yogurt sauce), flour, and parmesan and stir so flour coats all ingredients
Add egg, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
Note: If the mixture seems too thin, add additional flour, a little at a time, until it thickens up.
Divide the mixture loosely in the bowl into 6 equal cakes.
Add oil to a large skillet, heat to medium, add pancakes and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side or until browned.
Place cooked cakes on a cookie sheet and keep warm in the oven until all cakes are done.
Add Yogurt to a small bowl with 1 Tbls finely sliced scallion.
Add the zest from 1 lemon, then quarter the lemon and add the juice from 1 quarter. Add salt & pepper to taste
Take out pre-prepped and cooled Quinoa
Dice the tomato and add to quinoa. Add the juice from ½ of the lemon and 1 Tsp olive oil. Add salt & pepper to taste
Golden Summer Lentil Soup
This Golden Lentil Soup is amazingly creamy, rich, tasty, and healthy! Lentils are the star here; however, Turmeric plays an important role in giving this soup the amazing yellowish-orange-golden color. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory so not only does it bring flavor and color, but it also has healing benefits! So, this is really the ultimate soup…lentils, turmeric, tomatoes, and did I mention spinach??
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 15 oz Can diced tomatoes, with juices
- 15 oz Can coconut milk
- 3/4 cup uncooked red lentils rinsed and drained
- 3 cans low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to taste
- 5 oz baby spinach
In a large pot, add the oil, onion, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt, stir, and sauté over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until the onion softens.
Stir in the turmeric and cumin until combined. Continue cooking for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
Add the can of diced tomatoes (with juices), can of coconut milk, red lentils, broth, salt, and plenty of pepper. Add red pepper flakes or cayenne, if desired, to taste. Stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a low boil.
Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer, uncovered, for about 18 to 22 minutes, until the lentils are fluffy and tender.
Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve with toasted bread.