My Progress

Friday, July 15, 2011

My first brush with lentils

Black, Red and Green Lentils
Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy lentils... they're cheap!  Since reading an article in the newspaper a few months ago about 5 foods that we ought to eat more of, I have been trying to find some way of enjoying lentils.  I haven’t been able to find the original article but here is a similar article that has 4 of the 5 foods in it from the one I read.
Lentils:  This legume is quick and easy to prepare, and it absorbs the flavors of the components around it- making lentils great for soups, salads, or even on their own.  Like other beans, lentils are rich in fiber (twice your %DV, to be exact).  Soluble fibers found in lentils expand upon digestion, making you feel full longer, as well as absorbing some of the excess fatty acids for excretion.  They also stabilize blood sugar levels, degrading at a steady pace.  Lentils are also a great source of folate, which is absolutely essential in the diet as it scavenges homocysteine, a product of the methylation cycle which damages arterial walls.”

And of course we can't forget the famous quote from Patrick Henry: "Give me Lentils or give me death."

They are high in protein, iron, folate, vitamin B1 and have tons of dietary fibre.  They store extremely well for long periods and are extremely inexpensive.  Now I'm not completely sure, but from what I gather, Indian dal is about the same things, except some dal are lentils but some dal are the inner part of various beans ranging from kidney beans, mung beans, chickpeas, etc. There are green, French green (both are recommended), red (some prefer this one), yellow, orange, pink (also highly recommended), black (has a nutty flavor), white (very mild, almost tasteless).  Lentils have been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians and were thought to be an aphrodisiac.  Which explains a lot about why the ancient Egyptians died out!

The problem is, they taste like crap!  I’ve had them a few times and can barely choke them down (sorry, Aunt Jan).  But they are one of these “wonder foods” and so I am trying to find a way to enjoy them.  I went online and selected several recipes that sounded promising.  But several asked for black or French green lentils and Safeway and Superstore don’t carry them, so I settled on trying this one using green lentils.  I’m not listing it here as it was absolutely terrible.  It was so bad, I refused to serve it at supper.  Good thing we had cheese biscuits and potatoes and gravy for the main meal.
So I split the lentils into 3 pots and tried out a few things.  I added brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice to the first and it made it barely palatable.  Next I made a curried lentil and it was a bit better.  But not by much.

Sweet and Sour Lentils 
The final try, was a fair success. 

1 cup lentils
3 cups water
2/3 cup ketchup
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Boil the lentils for 1 hour.  Then add ketchup, sugar, vinegar, maple syrup and mustard and let simmer for 10 minutes to flavour.  Season with salt to taste (as adding salt or vinegar before the lentils are cooked will cause them to stay tough, like any of the bean family) and serve.

Upon further contemplation, I think if I did it again, I would add bacon or sausage slices to further flavor, or perhaps diced apple and craisins.
All in all, I’m not completely satisfied, as it felt to me as if I was just covering up the earthy flavor of the lentils with sweet and sour sauce.  So I’m going to keep trying.
Which reminds me of one last lentil joke.  A Priest, a Lawyer and a Lentil walk into a bar...


Anonymous said...

Hilarious. I know what you mean about lentils. I have a love hate relationship with them. I make a lentil stew with red lentils and tomatoes that is good (well, the kids won't eat it but Allen does), and a curried lentil dish that I like - comment from Facebook

Anonymous said...

wow,good for you logan, i will follow your blog, cheering you all the way , go go go, you can do it!!