Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pasta with Lentils

It's Wednesday. That means more legumes! Today's variety is lentils. No fancy French lentils. Or Indian lentils with other names. Well they could go by another name, but I don't know what it is. These are those very cheap lentils you can buy in the grocery store at something like 3 pounds for $1. These are the lentils I ate all the way through college.

They may be cheap college food, but they are in a class way above Ramen noodles and boxed macaroni and cheese. Lentils are a fine source of protein. They have very little fat. They're high in fiber which is very filling and doesn't spike your blood sugar and keeps you full longer. It is actually possible to eat healthy while existing mostly on lentils too. I know, I know, there are those people who say that Ramen noodles are very versatile and are only something like 10 cents a bag. But they are wrong. Ramen noodles are crap. I lived on them for a while in college too. And I'd rather go hungry than eat them ever again.

Today's lentil dish is not the lentil dish I was planning on. We've had such nice moderate weather here that when I made the meal plan for the week I was aiming for a lentil chili. But then today is a full 10 degrees hotter than yesterday and any urge for chili died. So I searched the Internet and found this interesting Pasta with Lentils from I tweaked the recipe quite a bit, and I am really pleased with the result. The meatiness of the lentils really comes through, as well as the zing of the turnip. It probably would have been more glamorous if I had any other small pasta besides macaroni, so I garnished with some edible Nasturtium blossoms. Yes Kittalog, that's what's blooming in my garden.

Pasta with Lentils
inspired by Gourmet

2 small onions, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup lentils
1 2/3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
1 turnip peeled and chopped fine
6 oz. elbow macaroni (or other small pasta)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

In a heavy large skillet cook the onion with the thyme in the oil in moderate heat, stirring, until the onion is golden and lightly carmalized, about 10 minutes. While the onions are cooking, combine the lentils with broth and bring to a boil. Simmer the lentils, covered, for 12 minutes. Add the carrot and turnips and simmer the mixture, covered, for 3 minutes, or until the carrots, turnips and lentils are tender. Transfer the lentil mixture with the liquid to the skillet, season it with salt and pepper, and keep it at a bare simmer while cooking the pasta.

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, boil the pasta until it is al dente. Ladle out and reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid, drain the pasta, and add it to the lentil mixture. Simmer the pasta mixture, tossing it to combine it and adding some of the reserved pasta liquid to moisten the mixture if necessary, for 1 minute. Stir in the parsley and serve.


glamah16 said...

I just made a quick dish with red lentils. They are a great filler. Why Ramen when you can have this type of dish!

Peter M said...

Mary, I had something like this in the Spring and I was pleasantly suprised by it's good flavour.

Kitt said...

Yum! And I'm jealous of your nasturtiums. I neglected to plant any seeds this year. I wonder if it's too late.