Basic Lentils to Go with Anything

2015-07-15 18.03.16RECIPE #20, DAY #17

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Lentils in a Sauce,” from World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jaffrey*

TIMING: At least an hour of simmer time, so I would allow for 1 1/2 hours, but most of it not in the kitchen


TOOLS: Nothing special

COOK TYPE: Stove top

HEALTH: There is no way around it; this is really good for you. Now, many people that I have talked to about eating more beans and lentils freak right out, saying that legumes do not agree with them in one way or another. Let me give you some traditional wisdom which also happens to be accurate: the more you incorporate legumes into your diet, the more they will agree with you. I suggest that you plan on at least one vegetarian night per week, and concentrate on those nights on beans or lentils. I also suggest you add beans and lentils in as sides and lunches and even snacks (like hummus) whenever you possibly can. Your body–your digestive system–will thank you.

2015-07-16 18.34.26EXPERIENCE: It was vegetarian night again, and I was not at all prepared. I wandered into the kitchen and pulled a vegetarian cook book from the shelf and flipped to the legume section. There, starred and looking up at me, were the “Lentils in a Sauce.” That sounded special.

Not special at all. These are straight-up lentils that can go with just about anything. In other words, this is a superb recipe to have in your back pocket. It’s healthy, It’s easy. It’s cheap. And it can camouflage (both literally and figuratively). We served it the first night with zucchini and sesame pita, and the second night alongside a veggie pasta to give our dinner a protein boost.

It does take some time, but mostly in simmering. If you have awhile before dinner, this recipe will let you go throw on a load of laundry or get a chapter written while you patiently wait.


  1. In a medium-large pot, combine 1 cup green or French lentils (picked over), 1 fine diced onion, 1 diced tomato, 2 chopped garlic cloves, a hearty handful of chopped parsley and cilantro, 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, and a hearty pinch of ground black pepper.
  2. Stir, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes, checking occasionally.
  3. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and stir. Continue to cook for another 15-45 minutes, tasting for doneness occasionally. If the lentils need more water, add by the 1/2 cup.
  4. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.


Serve with bread and some sort of vegetable or salad, just about any kind or combination.

*Recipe has been changed from the original.


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