Tag Archives: lentils

Spicy Italian Lentils

Lentils are one of my favorite legumes. Compared to other common beans, they’re higher in protein and lower in carbs per serving. Even better, they cook up from dried in just 20 to 30 minutes, which means much less planning and cook time. I was fully prepared to make them my usual way, but I had an extra chili pepper rolling around in my vegetable bin, so I started to chop that up. Hot peppers made me think of spicy Italian sausage, so I decided to go with the detour and came up with this recipe, which I hope y’all will love as much as I do.

Spicy Italian Lentils

  • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chili pepper, deseeded and minced or 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning mix
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chilies or pepper flakes, and herbs and cook until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add lentils and cook until glistening. Add water and salt, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes, adding water if needed. Serves 4.

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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day coming up this weekend, I thought I’d share one of my favorite Irish-inspired recipes, one which will probably make my Irish ancestors roll over in their graves..  It’s a mix of my favorite shepherd’s pie from childhood (mashed potatoes filled with mutton) and colcannon (mashed potatoes filled with cabbage). It’s got a few more steps than my usual recipes, but I think it’s worth the effort. Substitute olive oil or vegan margarine for the butter in the potatoes, and you’ve also got a tasty vegan dish.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

  • 2 pounds of potatoes, coarsely diced and peel if desired
  • 3 tbsp butter + more if desired
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ head cabbage, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Simmer covered until fork tender (15-20 minutes, depending on how big your pieces are). Remove from heat, drain off most of the water, add butter, and mash with potato masher or the back of a spoon. I prefer them a little chunky, but not too bad. Adjust salt (and maybe butter) to taste. Set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, bring lentils and vegetable broth to a boil, and simmer until the lentils are very soft (~20-30 minutes). Adjust the seasoning if necessary, drain off most of the excess liquid, and set aside.

While all that’s going on, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant and soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage, ½ cup of water, a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cover and allow to cook until cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F and butter a 2-quart casserole. In the bottom, layer half the potatoes. Top with cabbage and lentils, then add the rest of the potatoes. If desired, place pats of additional butter on top of the dish. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden. Serves 4 to 6.

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