Today I made braised black lentils from items I had on hand in my pantry and refrigerator and could easily pull together. A client and I were talking this morning about how even going to the grocery store can be anxiety provoking. I know I’m going less than I’m used to as I’m sure many of you are too. This lentil dish is hearty and was the perfect addition to my family dinner. I served this with a pork shoulder roast, roasted potatoes, and fresh green beans.
As you’ll see in the recipe some things are optional. I happen to have fresh thyme growing right now, if you don’t use dried or try another herb, these lentils are very forgiving. Also, I would have loved to use parsley to finish it off, but I don’t have any so instead I used the greens from carrot tops (saved before stashing in my freezer, see my tip below), both mixed in for flavor and for a bit of greenery to garnish the dish.
Quick tip: I usually save the carrot tops in the freezer to add to broth. I keep a large bag in the freezer and as I pull the tops off carrots, peels of onions, or the bottoms of celery I load up the bag. Then when I’m ready to make broth I pull out my bag of nutrient rich veggie pieces that I would usually compost and add them with the water and bones or other vegetables. If you do this make sure you wash everything well before putting it in the freezer and if possible, organic produce is preferable.
A little forethought goes a long way to making the lentils as it’s always good to soak lentils and other legumes with a touch of acid before cooking in order to help them be easier to digest. Lentils are full of fiber, important minerals, B-vitamins and protein. They are a nutritional powerhouse and great to keep in the pantry.
1 cup black lentils
1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Ghee
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
2 cups of broth or water
Salt and Black pepper to taste
½ a lemon’s worth of juice
Carrot tops or parsley to top (optional)
- At least 6 hours before cooking (preferably overnight) place lentils and apple cider vinegar in a bowl and cover with water. Set aside until ready to cook.
- When ready to cook the dish, drain the lentils and rinse well.
- Heat a dutch oven, or skillet with a lid over medium heat and melt the ghee. Once melted add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until starting to soften about 5-7 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.
- Now add in 2 sprigs of fresh thyme if using and stir these around, and top with the broth or water. Bring veggies and liquid to a simmer.
- Add the drained lentils, salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down to a simmer and cover for about 30 minutes. Checking once or twice to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot.
- After about 30 minutes your lentils should be nice and tender. Add the lemon juice and adjust seasoning as necessary. Top with greens if using and serve.