Food Stamps Cooking Club: Little Ole Lentils

May 21st, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »
Lentils May 14 002

Lentils make a delicious stand-alone entree, work as a filling side dish, or make a wonderful addition to home made soups and stews!

 

Those of us who MUST keep to a budget need to figure out the cheapest way to feed the people we love best.  If you are a user of SNAP or WIC or if you have food from a food pantry or use food commodities this info is not a news flash.

Something I enjoy cooking and eating are little ole lentils.  They are inexpensive to buy, fast and easy to prepare, and they are satisfying when I’m really hungry.  For me, lentils are comfort food.

If you are unfamiliar with lentils you might be interested to know that they come in pretty colors! Depending where you shop you might discover orange, red or yellow lentils.  The most common find will be green and brown.  They all taste pretty much the same and cook the same way but I have discovered that the green or brown do not become so mushy after they are cooked.

Lentils on their own are fine but I prefer to add some sauteed veggies when I prepare them.  I have a favorite cast iron skillet I use to saute vegetables so I like to chop an onion and a rib of celery, and add some carrot shavings for color and texture.  I love cooking lentils in home made vegetable broth.  The proportion I like to use is 1 cup lentils to 2 cups liquid.

SIDEBAR:  Cooking lentils in plain ole tap water will be just fine.  Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember that it is ALL small stuff.  If you are out of carrots or celery, the Kitchen Police will not arrest you.   END SIDEBAR

The beauty of lentils is that they do not need to be soaked.

SIDEBAR:  At a church picnic I went to once there was a huge, LOUD debate which was accompanied by extreme laughter about whether or not to soak beans.  If you ever bring a bean dish to one of our famous First-of-the-Month Fellowship dinners, you WILL be asked if they were soaked or not soaked!  This question will be followed by gales of laughter. **I suppose you would have had to BE there to think this is as funny as I do.  END SIDEBAR.

To cook lentils you  put them into simmering water.  After you add them in, lower the heat so as not to overcook the little darlings.

Since I am cooking for two I just add the cooking liquid (water or broth) to my little skillet, bring it up to a good simmer and add the lentils.  If you have many mouths to feed you will naturally want to use a larger kettle. I prefer to cook lentils without a lid so I can observe the process and stir occasionally.

I make sure there are some bubbles going on as they cook but I do not want them to boil as that will cause them to overcook and be tough.  Incidentally, lentils will be tough if they are old so make sure yours are fresh.

Do the taste test to check the tenderness…they will need to cook about 20 minutes.  When they are as soft as you like you may add some salt and pepper to season them.

SIDEBAR:  Unless you add the salt AT THE END of the cooking process, you will have tough lentils.  You are striving for tender little morsels, not crunchEND SIDEBAR

A classic way to serve lentils is to put a fried egg atop each serving.  Since I happened to have some hard cooked eggs on hand, I sliced them and used them as a garnish.

It’s really quite surprising how filling and delicious this simple meal can be.  Add a simple salad or veggie plate and a fruity dessert and you have a low cost, satisfying meal!  Even if you are living on a dime!

We LOVE LOVE LOVE your comments and your email messages!  Keep them coming at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com .  We sincerely hope you realize what a wonderful contribution each of you Members is to the world!

~Connie Baum

PS/Leftover Lentils?  Add them to your ground meat patties for dollar stretching meals!  Since they tend to be on the dry order, you might like to whirl them in your blender or food processor with broth, water or tomato juice.  You will be delighted with the results!

 

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4 comments

  1. Sheila says:

    Oh, Pieper! How did you remember that lentils were my favorite and Sadie used to make them all the time!?

    I’m leaving NOW for the store. There is not a lentil in this house and I remember that I cannot keep house without them!

    Thanks for jogging my memory!

    ~Sleila

  2. Jennifer M. says:

    We like lentils here too. When we have rice for anything I always make extra. A good side or main dish is equal amounts rice and lentils with a pat or two of butter and seasoning. Salt pepper garlic or whatever you like. If you have it you can sprinkle just a bit of cheese over top. Quick tip- If you wash your whole carrots first then peel them. Save the peelings and dry them out in the oven when you cook something else- dont burn them…just dry them. I can lay mine on a paper towel on top of my frig and in a day or too they will be dry. Then you can crunch them up to bits and store in a jar to add to soups/bean or lentil dishes, and casseroles for added goodness :) I am new here….Love the blog!!!

  3. Well, Jennifer, we are thrilled to have you on board! Thanks for chiming in!

    I love all your ideas about using rice with lentils and cooking enough for more than one meal!

    I especially appreciated your use of carrots! Since I make my own veg broth and bone broth this is a great tip I shall pinch!

    Big Hugs
    Mother Connie

  4. Sheila, you make me giggle.

    Hugs
    “Pieper”