I <3 Lentils
It's no secret that I love lentils. I dedicated one of my Weekend Herb Blogging entries to the lovely lentil, which is quickly becoming my favorite go-to ingredient on rainy days when I don't want to go to the grocery store. After contemplating making a dal and realizing I didn't have the right ingredients, I settled on this delightful recipe from an old Food & Wine: Curried Lentils with Tomatoes and Yogurt Cucumbers. The name doesn't really do justice to how great this dish is. The "yogurt cucumbers" are in a sauce similar to a raita, and they are so cool and soothing on the palate after the heat of the jalapeno in the lentils. All in all, the flavor profile of the spices in the dish is very nice.
This recipe is very healthy, especially if you use turkey bacon instead of real bacon, as I did. (Make the meal vegetarian by omitting the bacon altogether.) In fact, it's pretty much fine for phase one of the South Beach diet, which I'm trying to follow at the moment. The recipe makes a ton of lentils, so it's plenty to feed a family or to feed a single person (like me!) for several meals.
Curried Lentils with Tomatoes and Yogurt Cucumbers
- 2 oz. lean bacon (or turkey bacon), cut crosswise into 1/3-inch strips
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 3 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp. curry powder
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 lb. lentils (your favorite variety), rinsed and picked over
- 2 c. water
- 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 c. buttermilk
- 1/4 c. reduced-fat sour cream
- 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
Add the onion to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the ginger, curry powder, jalapeno and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Stir in the lentils, water and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sprinkle the cucumber slices with a large pinch of salt and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. In a small skillet, toast the cumin and coriander over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute; transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in the buttermilk, sour cream and lemon zest. Stir in the cucumber slices and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the lentils to a large bowl. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the cucumber salad over the lentils. Sprinkle the bacon and tomatoes over the cucumbers and serve warm or at room temperature.