3 Simple lentil dishes

Keep in mind when making aromatic red lentils

Keep in mind when making aromatic red lentils with spinach and onion that French du Puy lentils hold their shape best. (Credit: Marge Perry)

TIP French du Puy lentils hold their shape best; red lentils barely keep their shape at all, and brown or green lentils hold their shape fairly well.

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AROMATIC RED LENTILS WITH SPINACH AND ONION

1 cup quick-cooking brown rice

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided

2 cups thinly sliced onion

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1 tablespoon finely minced ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup red lentils

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach

1. Cook rice according to package directions.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer about half the onions to a small bowl.

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a saucepan over medium high; add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add lentils, tomato paste and 3 cups water; bring to a boil; reduce heat and gently simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

4. Add coriander and cumin to onions remaining in the skillet and cook 1 minute over medium heat. Add spinach and cook, tossing, until it is wilted and bright green, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir into lentils.

5. Place rice in the bottom of each of 4 bowls; top with lentils and garnish with reserved onions.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 430 calories, 19 g protein, 76 g carbohydrates, 12 g fiber, 7 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 505 mg sodium

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BACON, LENTILS AND TOMATOES ON TOAST

6 slices center-cut bacon

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup du Puy (French green) lentils

1 carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/4 cup parsley leaves

4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices whole-grain Italian bread, toasted

2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise

1. Cook bacon in Dutch oven until crisp; transfer to plate lined with paper towels. Crumble when cool.

2. Add tomatoes to pot and cook until they are wilted but still hold their shape, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Add lentils, carrot, celery and 21/4 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender, about 30 minutes.

4. Gently combine with crumbled bacon, tomatoes and add parsley.

5. Toast bread; spread with mayonnaise. Spoon lentils over toast.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 348 calories, 19 g protein, 51 g carbohydrates, 19 g fiber, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 390 mg sodium

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LENTIL SOUP WITH SWEET POTATOES AND ESCAROLE

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups chopped onion

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/2 cup lentils

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bunch escarole, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan

1. Heat oil in soup pot set over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Add sweet potatoes, lentils and thyme and bring back to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and simmer 22 to 25 minutes, until lentils and potatoes are tender.

2. Stir in the escarole and salt and cook 5 to 7 minutes longer, until greens are tender.

3. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional for each serving 292 calories, 13 g protein, 49 g carbohydrates, 16g fiber, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 878mg sodium