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How to Cook Lentils: A Perfect Pot of Lentils in Under 30 Minutes

I get excited about lentils. That’s just a fact. You can love me or leave me for it. But I suggest you stay.

If you do, I’ll show you how to cook lentils befitting the fabulous person you are.

Here’s the thing. Legumes are wonderful. Satisfying, versatile, nutritious, comforting. And lentils? Lentils are the breezy, low-maintenance, smarter-than-they-seem friend in the legume squad. (I almost wrote posse instead of squad, but see how millennial I am?) (Not very.) 

Tip

A teaspoon of herbes de Provence adds a lot of flavor to these lentils. Blends vary but usually contain some combination of savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lavender.

How to cook lentils

A perfect pot of lentils — savory, lightly herbaceous, perfectly tender — can be yours in under 30 minutes. Then you can spend the week tossing them into grain bowls and onto salads or leftover sweet potatoes or really wherever your heart desires. You can make a complete meal out of all of the things all of the time (give or take) as long as there’s a great pot of lentils in your fridge.

 
How to Cook Lentils 780 | Umami Girl-2

We love Puy lentils, but any type will do

Any variety of lentil will work with this cooking method, but I particularly like Puy lentils for salads and bowls because they hold their shape and a little bit of bite even when beautifully tender, and even after a week in the fridge. They taste great, too. Otherwise, what’s the point?

How to Cook a Great Pot of Lentils

A really great, flavorful pot of lentils is less than 30 minutes away. Any lentil variety will work for this recipe as long as you test for doneness, but I especially like Puy lentils for salads and bowls because they taste great and hold their shape even when nice and tender. Exact cooking time will depend on the age and variety of your lentils, but I find 25 minutes is almost always right for the Puy lentils I buy, regardless of source. These babies will keep well in the fridge for a week, and some weeks that's a lifeline. They'll turn anything from a simple green salad to a leftover sweet potato into a meal.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Serves Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry Puy lentils (see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

  1. Rinse lentils well in a fine-mesh sieve.
  2. Place in a small (about 2-quart) pot and cover with water by 1 to 2 inches. Stir in herbs and salt.
  3. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
  4. Cook until lentils are tender but still intact, about 25 minutes.
  5. Drain and serve as you like.
  6. Keeps, tightly covered, in the fridge for a week.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 169 Total Fat: 0.5g Carbohydrates: 30.4g Fiber: 5.1g Protein: 11.8g

Turmeric Shots Recipe

Turmeric shots are a delicious, vibrant blend of turmeric, ginger, golden beet, carrot, orange, green apple and lime juices. They're a nice little natural pick-me-up full of micronutrients. Compared to, say, your average balanced green juice, they're high in naturally occurring sugars and best served in cute doses of a few ounces, which is all you need anyway. 

Tip

Fresh turmeric is easier for your body to absorb than ground turmeric, since it contains its own natural oils. Even so, it's great to include some black pepper in your food throughout the day to aid absorption.

Turmeric shot benefits 

Hello from the middle of a loooooog juice cleanse. I'm Januarying so hard it'll be mid-February before it's all said and done. More on the details of the cleanse and my tenuous (if high-energy!) grasp on sanity in a later post. But today, here's a great little recipe for your juicer that you'll love incorporating into your real-life eating (or hey, your next juice cleanse).

This recipe makes two to three cups of turmeric shots, which you can store in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to three days, especially if you use a masticating juicer like mine. Or freeze in ice cube trays and then transfer to a zip-top bag to store in the freezer for up to a month. You'll lose a bit of nutrient value this way, but they'll still be little powerhouses and MUCH better for you than anything or anyONE else orange I can think of.

Turmeric Shots Recipe

This strong, vibrant golden juice tastes as great as it makes you feel. It's best served in small amounts (a few ounces at a time), since it's made from relatively high-sugar fruits and vegetables. With a three-inch piece of ginger, the juice is very gingery (which I like), so cut down if you'd rather have a milder ginger taste and feel.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Serves About 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces turmeric (2 to 3 inches each)
  • 1 3-inch piece ginger
  • 1 medium golden beet, peeled
  • 2 limes, skin and white pith removed
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 large juicy orange (such as Cara Cara), skin and white pith removed
  • 2 small green apples

Directions

  1. Feed all ingredients through juicer in the order listed. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve if you like. Stir and serve a few ounces at a time. Keeps tightly sealed in the fridge for several days, or freeze in ice cube trays and store tightly sealed in the freezer for up to a month. (You'll lose some nutrients this way, but it's still good stuff.)

Notes

I use the Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer, a masticating juicer that juices pretty efficiently and preserves nutrients for a longer period than centrifugal juicers. You can make this recipe with any juicer.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size:

Two-ounce shot

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 25 Total Fat: 0.2g Carbohydrates: 10.9g Fiber: 0g Protein: 0.8g

Magic Blender Dressing: Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette

This lemon vinaigrette is our go-to salad dressing. A whir in the blender, plus a dose of umami-rich nutritional yeast, make it seriously creamy. I originally developed it for our favorite kale salad, but we just as often use it on a few handfuls of baby spinach.

Tip

We like our salad dressings tangy, so this recipe uses equal parts olive oil and lemon juice. You can alter the ratio to suit your taste without losing creaminess.

THE lemon vinaigrette recipe

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single family in possession of a good salad, must be in want of a dressing. You guys, this is THE ONE. Our smooth, tangy, creamy lemon vinaigrette is the dressing that's always in our fridge. I developed it years ago for our favorite kale salad, and it's bold enough to stand up to kale and shredded Brussels sprouts and all kinds of raw cruciferous goodies. It's also great drizzled over baby spinach or tossed with chopped romaine and tons of crunchy veggies.I know I use the word magic kind of a lot for a muggle. But I try not to abuse it. It's not my fault that sparkles start to pop up in more and more places once you know how to look for them. This dressing definitely has magic in it. There's alchemy in whizzing together five basic vegan ingredients plus salt and pepper and turning out something totally marvelous in five minutes. That's another truth universally acknowledged. It just is.

Magic Blender Dressing: Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette

This creamy lemon vinaigrette with the umami goodness of nutritional yeast is our go-to salad dressing. A quick stint in the blender makes it smooth and creamy.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Serves Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process on high until smooth and creamy. Keeps well in a jar the fridge for up to two weeks. If not pourable, bring to room temperature before using. (If you're in a rush, 10-15 seconds in the microwave and a quick stir does the trick.)

Nutrition Information

Serving Size:

1 tablespoon

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 67 Total Fat: 7g Carbohydrates: 1g Fiber: 0.2g Protein: 0.6g

Our Family’s Favorite Kale Salad Recipe

Our family has two favorite kale salad recipes. The first one is a simple side salad that we’ll happily eat with virtually any meal. The second one (which was the first to enter our lives chronologically, and something in me needs to let you know that, okay sorry bye) is a complete meal in a bowl. You’re looking at it right here. This salad works well with lacinato or green curly kale, whichever you prefer and can find. It’s got our favorite dressing massaged into the leaves. And then. You guys. We roast potatoes and treat them like croutons.We pan-fry cubes of halloumi cheese to savory, crisp-tender perfection. (To make this salad vegan, leave out the cheese and maybe sub with salt and pepper tofu.) We toss in some chickpeas, corn kernels, and some seriously umami-rich Moroccan oil-cured olives. We sprinkle with nutritional yeast.We maybe do a little dance of joy. And that’s all.

Tip

These days we prefer curly kale in this salad, but in early days (and the photo), we used lacinato kale. They're both good choices.

Our Family's Favorite Kale Salad Recipe

Lucky for me, the whole family digs kale, and our two daughters especially like it raw in salads. This recipe is our very favorite version of kale salad that makes a full meal. It’s incredibly savory, and the bold flavors of the olives, halloumi and dressing stand up well to the strength of the kale. The potatoes are almost like croutons, which is never a bad thing.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Serves Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 5 ounces cooked corn kernels
  • 1 large bunch green curly kale
  • 1 batch Magic Blender Dressing
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried
  • 1/3 cup pitted black Moroccan oil-cured olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 8-ounce package halloumi cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400° F with a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (or a rimmed sheet pan) on a rack in the center. When preheated, carefully toss potato cubes with two tablespoons of the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt in the skillet. Spread potatoes evenly over the pan surface to avoid crowding. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning with a spatula halfway through, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Set aside to cool.
  2. While potatoes roast, prepare corn (microwaving from frozen is fine!) Strip washed and dried kale from its stems and tear into small bite sized-pieces. Place in a large bowl. Pour in about 1/4 cup of dressing and, using your hands, massage dressing into kale. This process will tenderize the kale and reduce its volume by almost half. Add chickpeas and olives to the bowl.
  3. Place a 12-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat and warm the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the halloumi cubes and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on most sides and warmed through. Add the cheese and potatoes to the salad bowl.
  4. Pour a little more vinaigrette onto the salad and toss all ingredients together gently. Sprinkle on the nutritional yeast and toss once more. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 372 Total Fat: 22.9g Carbohydrates: 32.5g Fiber: 7.7g Protein: 12.7g

Happy Weekend

Navesink Ice and Fog 780 | Umami Girl-2

Happy weekend, friends. We live alongside the Navesink River, which amazes me by looking and feeling different every day. (Onetwothree, just for starters.) It’s a tidal river, so maybe that’s most of it. But there’s a borderline-magical element too. It’s one of those phenomena where all the things I don’t know about science add up to a feeling of wonder and magic, and I’ll take it. I’ll take knowing the river is a place I can always go to slow down and pay attention and be rewarded for it.

Navesink Ice and Fog 780 | Umami Girl-3

Fog and water and ice

Friday was unseasonably warm after weeks of unseasonably cold weather (to the extent that means anything anymore), and the flux resulted in a meeting of fog and water and ice like I’ve never seen before. Don’t judge, but before I noticed it myself, I’d scrolled through Instagram and been inspired by this and this (the latter on a different east-coast water body, but hey). So I brought the real camera to the dock, and geez.

Navesink Ice and Fog 780 | Umami Girl-4

Soup, soup, soup

This crazy mess only lasted a few hours. What a moment, though. A convergence of all the states of matter that I actually understand. (What even, plasma and Bose-Einstein condensates? Where were you in elementary school?)

That’s all I’ve got today. Though if you’re hungry, maybe consider making one of the week’s most popular recipes for Sunday dinner. Spinach Tortellini SoupEasy Vegetarian Ramen with Rich, Savory Broth, or Italian Sausage Soup with White Beans and Spinach. Soup, soup, soup. Makes sense.

Talk to you soon.

Carolyn xx