The first few times I tried to make lentils, I made the mistake of cooking them in the rice cooker. They came out as one big pile of flavorless, sandy-textured mush. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that I didn’t think I liked lentils and thereafter avoided cooking with them.
Until I made lentil gratin, which I just can’t stop thinking about. Now, lentils are quickly becoming one of my favorite ingredients.
And what’s not to love? They are easy to make (if you skip the rice cooker), full of protein and amino acids, and contain plenty of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
For the record, I have also decided that it is just as easy (and sometimes even faster) to make rice on the stovetop, so the rice cooker has been pushed to the back of my appliance shelves. Anybody want a rice cooker?
This time around, I decided to braise the lentils by first toasting them with the garlic and onions, then simmering them in a combination of stock and warm spices like anise and cumin.
If you'd like, add some chopped seasonal vegetables when you add the stock for an even heartier entree. I recommend zucchini, broccoli, carrots or winter squash.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 large onion)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 cups lentils
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon anise seed
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red peppers
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.
- Add the lentils and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for another 8-10 minutes, stirring often, to toast the lentils.
- Stir in the stock and spices, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Cook until most of the stock has been absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.