I knew lentils were good for you, but I had no idea how amazing they were. Their nutrition profile, sustainability and ease of cooking makes them a food that is not only great for our health, but for our planet's health as well. There is so much to be said about this amazing "pulse" (that is their proper classification) that I will refer interested readers to the lentil article on the site of the world's healthiest foods.
When you went into most supermarkets a few years ago looking for lentils you would only find bags of brown lentils and it is these lentils that are most familiar to the American cook. The brown lentil and the green lentil have been called the continental lentils and are sturdy lentils and keep their shape when cooked. Now in most grocery stores,, you will often find the smaller more delicate ones as well, usually red or yellow. These cook quickly and get mushy, perfect for the dals of the Indian Cuisine. The lentil is a stable of Indian cuisine. Varied and flavorful dishes are made from this simple food by creatively layering blends of wonderful spices. So when you decide to make a lentil dish, be sure to purchase the right lentil.
How to cook lentils:
Lentils don't need to be presoaked. Even the green ones, which are most hardy, only need about 30 to 40 minutes of boiling, Although the green ones are often used in French recipes and are expected to keep a firmer texture, they shouldn't be chewy. When salt or an acidic ingredient, like a vinegar or lemon juice, is added to the boiling water early in their cooking, they will not reach their proper tenderness. Other seasonings, can be added as the lentils cook to give them the flavor of the dish and the acidic ones can be added later. I generally keep lentils on hand since they make a fairly easy, satisfying, cheap, soup. (I can't use all these adjectives for most dishes.) Click here for this recipe which is on my website. Lentil Soup However, I wanted to try a different lentil and found a green lentil dish on the website www.realsimple.com. It's under Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce. In Florida, at the time of this writing, Halibut was $22 a pound. But any substantial fish will work, i.e. salmon or swordfish. I thought this recipe would be interesting, since it added the surprise of a sweet potato and had an unusual mustard sauce which was not thick, but complemented the dish nicely. See the recipe below.
Fish with Lentils and Mustard Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups green lentils, rinsed (1/2 pound)
kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-ounce pieces of a hardy fish fillet
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and sweet potato and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the fish with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
In a bowl, whisk together the mustard, wine, and tarragon. Divide the lentil mixture and fish among plates and drizzle with the sauce.
(Obviously, the taste of this simple sauce will vary considerably by with your choice of mustard and wine. It is not at all thick, but the flavor was a nice addition.}
#Stonesoupblog #lentils #healthycooking
Tricia Gregory, MA,RD/N
A dietitian who is a foodie and loves a great dinner party with wonderful food and terrific friends.