Monday, May 28, 2012

a good pot of lentils

Back in December Bon Appetit posted a so-called food lover's cleanse, with a bunch of healthy veggie-laden recipes that were supposed to appeal to well, food lovers, while still being good for you. Sounds like a win-win, no?

I haven't mentioned this on the blog, I don't think, but as much as I love food, I actually have some pretty bad digestive issues that plague me on a regular basis. I won't get into the gory details, but suffice to say there is a lot of discomfort and bloating, and I don't know what it is causing it. So, when I read about a food lover's cleanse that was designed not for accelerated weight loss but just to be a healthy balanced diet to start the new year off with good habits, I thought it could be just thing thing for me and my poor digestive track.

Unfortunately, I quickly realized this was not the case. There's some cool ideas for sure, with plenty of toasted nuts, caramelized onions, zesty sounding salad dressings, but I ultimately packed it in when I realized there were something like 78 pantry items that you were supposed to buy, including six different types of vinegar. I actually posted a rather incensed comment calling them insane for devising such a complicated meal plan with so many non-pantry-staple ingredients. I mean honestly, there's no way anyone who travels on public transportation would ever be able to carry the sheer volume of items home, not to mention that it was totally cost prohibitive.

So in the end I gave up on that plan and made exactly one thing from the entire 14 day menu: "A Good Pot of Lentils." Luckily, these lentils are tasty and easily adaptable. You can switch up the spices and herbs (or "aromatics," as I suppose you would technically call them, per their fancy lingo, and flavor them with whatever you have on hand. I've left the recipe in its original form, but really, there's no reason to tie yourself down to the particulars. I made way less than 2 cups, and put in peeled garlic cloves (I see no reason to chop off the top third of the head), among other changes, but the basic idea was still there.

If you like lentils, this is probably going to be right up your alley. I had them with a big scoop of Greek yogurt, and it was a lovely, healthy and filling dinner. The breadth of the full healthy cleanse might be a little bit more than most people can handle, but I'm pretty sure anyone can manage these lentils.

A Good Pot of Lentils
from Bon Appetit's Food Lover's Cleanse

Serves 6-8

Basic Ingredients
2 cups lentils (green French or black beluga)
4 cups water
2 tsp Kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Optional Aromatics
1 carrot, peeled 
fennel fronds
3 thyme sprigs
3 parsley sprigs
1 medium onion, peeled
1 celery stick
1 bay leaf
one head of garlic (the top sliced off) 
one whole dried chili

Place first four ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add any or all of the following aromatics and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender and no longer chalky at their core (about 30-45 minutes). Adjust the seasoning with additional salt. Cool the lentils in the cooking liquid. 

DO AHEAD: Keep lentils refrigerated in the liquid for up to 5 days.
When ready to serve, scoop (working around the aromatics, or you can remove them) out of the liquid with a strainer or slotted spoon.

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