You know those days when you accidentally leave the house without thawing anything out and you later can’t justify getting take-out? Tonight was one of those nights. I have some go-to dinners: frozen ravioli, salad, or I just suck it up and heat up whatever leftovers are in the fridge, but today I didn’t want to entertain those options. I wanted something healthy. Today, that something was one of my newer go-to dinners: lentils. Lentils are quick, versatile, hearty, yummy, and comforting. Here’s what I made for dinner tonight:
Red Lentils with Spinach Mirepoix
This dish is super easy and relies on pantry staples, so you can always throw this together when you didn’t do the best job with your meal planning. 🙂 It’s also one of those meals that fills you up without weighing you down. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 3 Tbs. olive oil (or butter, or canola–whatever you prefer)
- 1 medium carrot, diced into small pieces
- 1 stalk of celery, diced into small pieces
- 1 small onion, diced into small pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup of red lentils (you can sub with French [these will need to be rinsed], brown, or green, but cooking time will increase), sorted
- 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth/stock (can sub with veggie broth to make this a vegetarian dish)
- 2 cups of packed fresh baby spinach leaves (you could also use frozen, just make sure you defrost first and squeeze out the excess water)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- lemon wedge (optional)
Heat the oil in a medium sized pot over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the carrot, celery, onion, salt, and pepper. Congrats, you’ve just put together a mirepoix! Mirepoix is just a fancy French word for the combination of celery, onions, and carrots. Saute for approximately 5 minutes then add the garlic. Cook for another minute or two with the lid on. You just want the veggies to soften a bit.
While you’re waiting for the veggies to cook, measure out your lentils and pour them onto a cookie sheet or plate and inspect for anything that’s not a lentil. Sometimes small pebbles can slip through the sorting process when they are packaged, so you always want to check to make sure.
Once you feel good about your veggies, add in the chicken broth (or whatever broth you’re using) and then stir in the lentils. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. or until they are just tender. Red lentils cook up quick and are much softer than their brown and green cousins. They start off this vibrant orangey-red, but end up a warm orangey-yellow color.
NOTE: If you’re using other types of lentils, such as brown, French, or green, the cooking time will increase to 30-45 minutes. You’ll also need to add more liquid, so check as they are cooking and add more as needed.
After the lentils are done, stir in the spinach leaves and let them wilt. You can cover them with a lid for a minute to speed up this process.
Serve as is or with a squeeze of lemon on top for a bit of freshness.
Can you guess what I’m taking for lunch tomorrow?