Posts Tagged ‘Lentils’


Pressure Cooker Chicken, Bacon, and Lentil Stew

February 20, 2018

Although I’m usually hesitant to acquire new kitchen gadgets, our 10-year-old crockpot has been living with a broken lid hinge/handle for a few years now and has generally seen better days. My husband had expressed interest in pressure cooking a few times over the past couple years, so when Amazon offered the Instant Pot Duo Plus at an excellent price on cyber Monday, I made a rare impulse buy with the justification that I could replace the crockpot and also have a pressure cooker/rice cooker/yogurt maker all in one appliance. (I’ve since learned that many people think the Instant Pot’s slow cooker function is sub-par, so I’m going to test it out for myself before finally getting rid of my trusty old crockpot.)

The only experience I’ve had with pressure cookers is watching my parents cook rice and beans in their old stovetop “jiggler” style cooker, which always made me a bit nervous. But the new electronic countertop cookers have a lot more fail-safes built in, so after reading through the manual to learn more about the pressure cooking process, I started out with a simple batch of plain basmati rice. Success!

My next step was to find some good recipes for actual meals. Although I generally prefer to cook out of cookbooks from sources that I know extensively test their recipes (versus just searching the internet for recipes), my current cookbook collection didn’t include any pressure cooker books. So I turned to Serious Eats, one of the few online sources I trust to produce great recipes. I already had all the ingredients for this chicken stew, so it seemed like a perfect recipe to get started. It turned out perfectly, and I’ve since fallen in love with pressure cooking as a way to prepare easy meals that I can throw together while the kids are napping and still have time left over to get other things done.

Depending on what you’re making, pressure cooking isn’t always faster than stovetop cooking, but the advantage is that with an electronic model, you don’t have to monitor it once the cooking starts. So far I’ve made mostly stew-type meals (including a lot of Indian curries), which is what this type of moist-heat cooking excels at. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more pressure cooker recipes to share over the coming months! Enjoy!

Pressure cooker chicken, bacon, and lentil stew

See recipe


Red Lentil Dal with Coconut Milk and Kale

January 24, 2016

This red lentil dal is another easy recipe I clipped out of Food and Wine (February 2015) during my recent magazine purge. Dal is the Indian word for dried split peas or lentils, and is also used to refer to the thick stew made from them.  We had it as an accompaniment at most meals when I visited India in 2010 (including breakfast!); I fondly remember scooping up mouthfuls with delicious homemade chapati. This recipe adds kale as a hearty green to bulk up the stew, so this would be suitable as a light main dish (accompanied by a salad and some crusty bread) as well as a side dish.

I never really jumped on the kale bandwagon of a few years ago (which still seems to be going strong, although I hear it mentioned more often now in the form of green smoothies), but I don’t dislike it and am happy to try recipes that make good use of it. This dal recipe doesn’t specify the type of kale to use; even though I have more familiarity with the Tuscan variety, I bought the more common curly-leaf variety this time. The recipe only used about half the bunch, so now I need to figure out something to do with the leftover kale in the next couple of days! The type of chile peppers is also unspecified: the recipe just calls for “small red chiles.” I ended up buying Fresno chiles, which have a kick but didn’t overwhelm the dish with spice.

Overall we really enjoyed this lentil stew! The coconut milk adds just the right amount of background coconut flavor without being overly coconut-y. Recipe has been pasted into my binder of ones to keep and make again!


See recipe


Lentil and Garlic Sausage Cassoulet

October 21, 2013

I made this cassoulet as part of my cooking binge last weekend before I got sick. I wonder if my mind had a premonition that my body would be out of commission for a while and got me all motivated to cook a million leftovers? I’ll never know for sure, but I’m so happy that I stocked up on chili, cassoulet, braised short ribs, and kielbasa with sauerkraut. It was the perfect amount of food to get me through until I was feeling marginally well enough to cook again.

I tried cassoulet for the first time during our trip to Paris last month, at a restaurant named Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes. Rather than being a typical small-portions-with-a-fancy-presentation city restaurant, it’s like a little bit of the country transplanted into the heart of the city. Cassoulet is an old French country dish with a texture partway between a casserole and a stew. It consists of white beans, pork sausage, duck confit, and whatever other meats the chef decides to add. It was delicious in that hearty rib-sticking way, so after I returned home and saw this lentil-based version in one of my older issues of Bon Appetit, I knew I had to try it.

The most difficult part was procuring a few of the ingredients. French lentils are no problem; Niblack foods near my job sells them and I usually have some on hand for a couple other recipes I like. The smoked garlic sausage and the slab bacon? I turned to the public market for help and initially wasn’t having much luck. All the sausages were raw, and I needed smoked. Finally I found a good quality kielbasa at Seven Bridges Farm: success! But I didn’t think I was going to be able to find unsliced bacon anywhere. The one meat seller told me that they could smoke a piece of pork belly and then have it available at the market next weekend, but I wanted to make the cassoulet the next day. Finally, in a little tiny Polish grocery stand, I spotted what looked like bacon. and it was unsliced! Perfect.

So this recipe starts out by cooking the whole slab of bacon in water for like an hour. Weird, but okay. Then that broth gets used to cook the lentils, and after that it also gets poured over the whole casserole before it bakes at the end. By the time the bacon and the lentils were cooked in it, it looked like totally gross dishwater or something, but turns out Bon Appetit knew what they were talking about because the whole casserole was infused with this awesome smoky-but-not-overpowering bacon-y flavor. Overall, this was probably one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten. There were a lot of steps and it took a whole afternoon to make, but it was so worth it. Try it; you’ll love it.

Lentil and sausage cassoulet

See recipe


Lentil Salad with Tomato and Dill

August 21, 2013

The dill in our garden is beginning to go to seed, so I’ve been on the lookout for recipes that incorporate fresh dill. Don’t want to let it go to waste! This lentil salad recipe from Gourmet Today was perfect: it also enabled me to use up some more tomatoes and scallions that I had purchased at the market. So it was a win-win all around!

I love the texture of French green lentils; they’re smaller and less likely to get mushy than brown lentils when cooked. I’ve used them many times in the fall when making pasta with lentils and kale (which quickly became one of my staple recipes), and I was happy to find another recipe that incorporated them.

If I end up with a bunch of dill to use up again, I’d definitely revisit this recipe! The olive oil and vinegar dressing was a nice complement to the earthy lentils, and the fresh herbs, scallions, and tomatoes kept the whole salad from becoming too heavy. Bonus: it only takes about 25 minutes from start-to-finish since it’s recommended to serve warm!

Lentil salad with tomato and dill

See recipe


Brown Rice, Lentil, and Spinach Soup

August 1, 2013

Upstate New York has had a reprieve from really hot weather for the last week or so; it’s actually been under 60 degrees at night! Don’t misunderstand – I love warm weather. But I also love leaving the house windows open, feeling the fresh air, not shutting the house up and running the air conditioner constantly. The cooler evening weather has me thinking about warming supper food like soups and braises (and I’m eating some soup from my freezer for lunch as I type this), so today I’m sharing a recipe that I made back in the spring. I think I made this soup while I was eating gluten-free during Lent, so for anyone who needs to stay gluten-free for health reasons, this is a tasty option!

I found this recipe in one of the back-issues of Saveur magazine online, and it appealed to me immediately because it’s a whole meal in a bowl: just add crusty bread or wheat crackers on the side. It’s got Italian sausage, mirepoix, lentils, brown rice, and spinach. Full of fiber and protein! Delicious and healthy. This recipe makes a lot of soup too, so make sure you have a large enough pot. The directions call for a 5 quart pot, but I used my 7 quart Dutch oven and found that it was a good size; I could stir everything without having to worry about splashing over the sides. :) Make it on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll have lunchtime leftovers for a week!

Brown rice, lentil, and spinach soup

See recipe


Pasta with Lentils and Kale

May 31, 2011

I’m back after a month-long hiatus! Between going away on vacation (using up leftovers before going away) and cooking older recipes that I’ve already posted, I haven’t had anything really new to write about for the past couple weeks! Now that the weather has improved and we are going to the market regularly, I will try to get back on a regular schedule again.

I discovered this pasta dish last summer in my Gourmet Today cookbook when we received a bunch of Tuscan kale (sometimes called dinosaur kale) in our CSA box and I was looking for ways to use it. This immediately became one of our all-time favorite vegetarian pasta suppers because it is so incredibly delicious! The sweetness of the caramelized onions harmonizes in a perfect balance with the heartiness of the kale and lentils. Although it does take some time to caramelize the onions, don’t rush this step because the flavor that develops is crucial to the overall recipe. The directions for this dish have a lot of “meanwhile”s, so be sure to read through the whole recipe before you begin so you can get the longer-cooking-time items started first (like the onions) and you don’t have to wait around for them to finish cooking.

I can’t wait to get more Tuscan kale in my box this summer so that I can make more of this delicious pasta – it doesn’t last very long at our house!

Pasta with lentils and kale

See recipe


Vegetable Curry with Lentils and Spinach

April 20, 2011

Although this coconut curry may not be as photogenic as the coconut Bundt cake that I posted the other day (haha!), this dish from The Healthy Slow Cooker is both delicious and nutritious! As with all of the slow cooker recipes I like to make, this one can be prepared the night before to cut down on prep time in the morning. Indian spices and heat from cayenne pepper combine with the sweetness of coconut milk and sweet potatoes in a wonderful balance of contrasting flavors, and spinach and lentils are both packed full of nutrients. If serving this curry over brown Basmati rice or with whole-wheat naan, it makes a perfect light-yet-complete vegetarian supper.

Vegetable curry with lentils and spinach

See recipe