The DeLish Bite

Lindsay Evans blogs about food, entertaining and her favourite recipes for Green Living.

Lentils are not something that usually overly excited me. It is not that that I dislike them in any way, more that I am weary of the mostly mushy tin varieties and feel that between life and work (and my current pregnancy exhaustion), I just don’t have the time or energy to soak, drain and cook the dried variety. However, in times when we are all trying to cut back on the cost of our everyday meals, I have come to realize, that the lentil really can be the perfect choice for your next meal. Lentils are an easy-to-cook staple that have a ton of nutritional bang for your buck. They are tasty, versatile and best of all, extremely inexpensive. Here is the low down on the lentil: White, Red and Green: There are three main types of lentils: white, red and green. White lentils are earthy, rich and hearty. They are a great addition to soups, stews, vegetable and rice dishes. Red lentils are less hearty and milder than the white variety. Thus, they are wonderful in soups and are great pureed into a fast and delicious Indian spread. The French Puy lentil is the most celebrated of the green lentils. It is robust, peppery and great on its own as a side dish, accompanying a French inspired meal. Good for your waist: Lentils are a waist-friendly food. They are extremely high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which provide an energy boost while ensuring you stay full for hours. In addition, they are low in calories and nearly fat-free. Protein Powerhouse: Lentils are almost a complete protein and thus are a wonderful addition to a vegetarian diet or someone who is trying to cut back on meat. They pack a whopping 9 g or protein for every 100g. Nutritional Abundance: Lentils are packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients that help fight and prevent disease. They are an excellent source of folic acid (great for us pregnant ladies!), potassium and iron. They also provide a good amount of copper, zinc, thiamin, magnesium, niacin and Vitamin B6. If you, like me are at times weary of lentils or other beans, go ahead and try this recipe. It is hearty while being vibrant, fresh and zingy. Red Lentil and Coriander Soup:Ingredients: 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter or olive oil 1 large onion, finely chopped
 2 cloves garlic, minced
 1 tbsp (15 mL) grated fresh ginger 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground coriander 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground cumin
 2 carrots, peeled and diced 2 stalks celery, diced 2 cups (500 mL) red lentils, rinsed
 4 to 6 cups (1 to 1.5 L) chicken or vegetable stock Sea salt and cracked black pepper 1/4 cup (50 mL) lemon juice 1 cup (250 mL) coconut milk (optional) Handful or coriander, chopped Directions: 1. Heat oil or butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 to 5 min. Add coriander and cumin and stir for 1 min. Add carrots and celery and sauté until just beginning to brown, about 2 min. Add lentils, 4 cups (1 L) stock and a generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 2. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce to a simmer. If you think this soup is too thick, go ahead and add the remaining 2 cups (500 mL) stock. Cook until the lentils are soft and soup is thickened, which may take about 30 to 45 minutes. 3. If soup seems too thick at this time, add water a little at a time to thin to the desired consistency. Stir in the lemon juice and coconut milk, if using. Adjust taste for seasoning. 4. Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with chopped coriander

Food styling by Lindsay Evans, delish.ca and photography by Jodi Pudge, www.jodipudge.com