Thursday, March 1, 2012

Legume Love (or, cooking with peas, beans and lentils!)

We have all heard how we should be adding more fiber to our diets, cooking with more whole foods, and generally eating better.  One of the easiest and most cost efficient ways to do this is to use whole dried legumes - the dried peas, beans and lentils of the legume family.

I'm going to show you two of my family's favorite legume recipes.  They are easy, yummy, and a great substitute for meat!

Lentil Tacos:

2-3 cups dried lentils
6-9 cups chicken broth
1 medium onion
2 T olive oil
2 T powdered cumin
2 T powdered coriander
1 T paprika (plain)
1 T chili powder
1/2 T dried parsley
1/2 t garlic powder
salt to taste

I like to use Red Chief lentils - they are colorful, and look fresher when cooked.  But any kind of lentils that you can get your hands on will work for this recipe.

First, chop the onion into medium sized bits, and saute it in olive oil until tender:

Next, add the spices to the onions.  Yes, you read right.  It is 2 TABLESPOONS of each spice.  You want this recipe to pack a serious taste punch.

Stir the spices in with the onion until very fragrant.  Add the dried lentils, and stir around:

Add the chicken broth, stir, and cover.  Turn down the heat and simmer until done.

The rule of thumb is three parts liquid to one part lentils.  So you can adjust the recipe to how many people you are feeding.  Check the lentils every 10 minutes or so, and add more liquid (it can be water at this point if you are out of chicken broth) if the lentils are still not quite soft.  It should take about 45 minutes for the lentils to be thoroughly cooked.

Use this mixture as taco meat.  My favorite tacos have soft corn tortillas warmed on the gas burner and charred a bit, with lettuce, peppers, cheese and a bit of lime:


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