Friday, February 15, 2013

Curried Lentils

Lentils are a wonderful, nutritious and frugal choice for a whole foods meal.  Lentils cook up quite easily and are very versatile.  Because lentils (green lentils, that is) cook up to a dull brown color, I love to combine them with colorful vegetables to brighten the meal. Here the lentils are paired with cheery red tomatoes, golden butternut squash and a sprinkle of vibrant green onions.

This recipe for Curried Lentils is a frugal meal that is quite simply thrown together.  It's a one pot meal, which saves on clean up time, too.  Prep time shouldn't take you more than 15 minutes, and the cook time is just 30 minutes more.  It's full of onions, butternut squash and tomatoes, and it also has protein from the lentils.  The curry and fresh ginger give it some zing.  And if you don't have a butternut squash on hand, you can substitute pumpkin or sweet potatoes in its place.

Here's the cost run-down (all organic except the ginger root):
Lentils: $2.29
Onions: $.76
Butter: $.25
Tomatoes: $1.99
Butternut squash: $2.00
Curry powder: $.36
Fresh ginger root: $.25

Total: $7.90

Just under $8.00 for a one pot meal that serves four very generous adult-sized portions adequate for an entire meal, or six portions if you're adding a side like salad, rice or bread. So for an entire meal, that would be just $1.98 per serving, or for the bulk of the meal just $1.33 per serving. A pretty good deal!

Curried Lentils

2 T butter
2 onions
1 2-inch section of ginger root
2 T curry powder
1 butternut squash (small)
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 lbs. lentils (about 2 1/4 cups)
3 cups water or chicken stock
salt, to taste
optional garnish: yogurt, cilantro or green onions

Dice the onions and mince the ginger.  Heat a pot over medium-high heat.  Add the butter, onion and ginger and saute, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, peel and dice the butternut squash.  Add to the pot along with the curry powder.  Continue to saute, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, rinse the lentils and check for any stones.  Add the lentils to the pot and saute, stirring for 1 more minute.  Then add the can of tomatoes and the water/stock.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cover the pot.  Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Serve in bowls.  This dish is delicious on its own, but you can top the curried lentils with a dollop of whole milk yogurt, if you desire.  Minced cilantro or green onions are also a nice addition.  

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