A healthy, homey, and high-protein entrée–think easy lunch or dinner–made with red lentils, roasted carrots and some exotic spices. It’s easy, delicious, and super-frugal, too!
I’m not afraid of using the F word.
It’s sprinkled throughout my blog. When I’m not using it, I’m thinking it. Pretty much all of the time.
I’m letting it rip today, too. Ready?
The word is anything but cool in foodie circles. Their loss. Because frugality can (and, historically, often does) lead to creativity, inspiration and innovation, three of the best ingredients you can have in the kitchen.
With the help of some carrots and red lentils, they led to this gorgeous, glowing bowl of incredible eating.
This is such a quick and delicious meal! I was thinking of something fast, easy, and high-protein for lunch, in particular, when I came up with this, especially a dish that I could make ahead and reheat with ease. But it makes a hearty supper, too, for pennies per serving.
At the heart of the recipe is red lentils.
Up until a few years ago, I would have to special-order these, or stock up on visits to markets in larger metro areas. Now, they are readily available–and inexpensive– at my local grocery store (my local Kroger even sells their own store brand of red lentils). Hurrah! If you have not purchased them before now, look for them where dried beans are shelved; you should be able to find them there.
And what a convenience food. Unlike more common brown lentils, red lentils are split, which allows them to cook in 20 to 25 minutes, depending on desired amount of tenderness. That’s my kind of fast food! They are also high in fiber and packed with protein (14 g fiber and 13 g protein per 1/4 cup dry lentils).
I kept the flavoring in the lentils simple: garlic and turmeric. The garlic is mellow. It simmers, unpeeled, with the lentils, then is removed, minced (it is so easy to peel and chop when it is soft) and added back in.
Turmeric gives these lentils their extra-golden hue.
Turmeric has a savory-ginger quality (it is cousins with ginger) and contains the antioxidant curcumin, a powerful antioxidant with myriad health benefits (perfect for staving off late-winter colds!).
While the lentils simmer, roast some carrots with Moroccan spices: smoked paprika and cinnamon. If you do not have the former, use an equal amount of cumin or chili powder, they will still be wonderful. While I decided to get a bit fancy, and cut the carrots into batons, 1/4-inch thick slices are easier and just fine, too. Or, go extra-easy and use baby carrots, halved lengthwise.
It takes roughly the same amount of time to roast the carrots as it does to simmer the lentils.
The results are wow-worthy, despite the humble nature of the ingredients. Try it tonight, or whip up a batch for several days worth of portable, packable lunches. The flavor will hook you, the high protein and fiber will leave you feeling full & energized, and the frugality will keep your wallet fat!
Happy eats, all!
Making this recipe? I would love to see it!
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- 6 cups water
- 1 cup red lentils
- 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- ½ teaspooon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoons freshly cracked pepper
- 4 medium carrots, peeled, cut into ¼-inch thick batons or slices
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Optional: fresh cilantro, mint or parsely leaves
- Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Lentils: In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the lentils, garlic, tumeric, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are very tender and beginning to fall apart (add more water, if needed).
- Remove garlic from lentils; squeeze out the soft garlic on a cutting board. Finely chop garlic and stir back into lentils.
- Carrots: While lentils cook, place carrots on prepared baking sheet. Spray carrots with cooking spray; sprinkle with cinnamon & paprika, and then season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
- Roast in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes until tender and browned at edges.
- Divide lentils between bowls and top each with an equal amount of roasted carrots. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, if using.
Spices: An equal amount of chili powder or ground cumin can be used in place of the smoked paprika. An equal amount of curry powder can be used in place of the turmeric.