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Savory Lentils With Heirloom Tomatoes and Veggies

A long-time whole-grain baker, Kathryn discovered the thrill and ease of cooking with whole, fresh foods decades ago. Still chopping!

Savory lentils with heirloom tomatoes and veggies

Savory lentils with heirloom tomatoes and veggies

One-Pot Meal in Just 30 Minutes

What to do when you're out of time and need a healthy meal everyone around the table wants to dig into?

Sometimes we just don't have time or energy to cook a big meal for our family. Sure, you could hit the fast-food line, but that's as high on grease and calories as it is low on nutrition and disease-preventing vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.

That's when I like to fall back on old standbys and comfort food. This savory one-pot meal takes only 30 minutes from setting the water to boil to setting the pan on the table. My grandchildren asked for seconds, so you know it's good.

This recipe came about almost by accident—when I needed to save some pricey organic produce before it went bad. Here's the story.

Mission: Save the Veggies!

A while back, I helped my daughter and her family while Mom and Dad were busy preparing for the grand opening of their new business. Neither had time to cook. Their veggie bins were full of gorgeous organic produce. I had to get those foods into tummies—and save them from the compost bin.

I made casseroles they could reheat on the run. I labeled and dated them so that no one would have to guess what was what or how old it was.

On the last day, all packed to go, and with an hour to kill, I wracked my brain for something to do with ribs of celery on the edge of going soft and three nearly forgotten heirloom tomatoes now good for nothing but soup or stew. I needed a hearty, one-dish meal that would keep for a few days—comforting, as well as nourishing.

Lentils come in a variety of colors; we buy them in bulk and store them in airtight Fido jars.

Lentils come in a variety of colors; we buy them in bulk and store them in airtight Fido jars.

Lentils to the Rescue

Scouring the pantry for a base, I found rice and beans in half a dozen varieties each. All would take too long to cook, but aha! Tucked in a dark corner, I spotted a bag of lentils. Perfect!

I set the water to boiling, washed the lentils, and had them cooking in less than five minutes. While the lentils softened, I minced a tiny bit of just-turning-red jalapeño pepper, sliced the celery, and chopped onion, garlic, and tomatoes.

The spicy vegetables would infuse those lentils with flavor, so I added the pepper, onions, and garlic as soon as they were chopped, along with salt and a little celery seed. Then I turned them down to simmer till not quite soft.

Red, yellow, and orange heirloom tomatoes

Red, yellow, and orange heirloom tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes for Flavor and Color

How wonderful is it when food that tastes good is also loaded with healthful nutrients? In this recipe, we've got lycopene-rich heirloom tomatoes and several other vibrant, fresh vegetables.

Lycopene is an important antioxidant that helps us fight disease at the cellular level. According to a UC Davis study, the richer the tomato's color, the more lycopene we absorb. This bright red orb is a prime example.

But did you know that onions and garlic, from the allium family, are super good for us too? Their flavanoids and polyphenols may help prevent certain cancers, reduce heart disease risk, and in women may even help to reduce bone loss.

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Read More From Delishably

Test your knowledge! How much do you know about the humble lentil?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Lentils are
    • Berries
    • Seeds
    • Legumes
  2. Lentils are good for us, in part, because they have a
    • Low glycemic index (how our bodies process sugars)
    • High glycemic index
  3. Lentils are an excellent source of
    • Folate
    • Manganese
    • Fiber
    • Protein
    • All of the above
    • None of the above
  4. True or false: Lentils are high in fat
    • True
    • False
  5. Lentils grow in pods containing
    • 1-2 seeds
    • 2-3 seeds
    • 3-4 seeds
    • Numerous seeds
  6. Lentils originated in
    • Central America
    • Eastern Europe
    • The Mediterranean
    • Central Asia

Answer Key

  1. Legumes
  2. Low glycemic index (how our bodies process sugars)
  3. All of the above
  4. False
  5. 1-2 seeds
  6. Central Asia

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: Congratulations for taking the time to learn about lentils. You're on your way to sound nutrition in your diet.

If you got between 2 and 3 correct answers: Good job! You are already on the path to discovering the goodness of this hearty legume.

If you got 4 correct answers: Keep going. Soon you'll be teaching the rest of us!

If you got 5 correct answers: You're a budding nutritionist!

If you got 6 correct answers: You know enough to write a Hub about lentils. Sing its praises!

Benefits of Lentils

Then we have what some say is one of the world's healthiest foods: the teeny, tiny lentil.

Lentils are jam-packed with fiber and nutrients, and have been found to reduce cholesterol and heart disease. Not only are lentils high in the good fiber that keeps our digestive tract happy, they are a good source of iron, too.

If you have to watch your blood sugar, you'll be glad to know they have a low glycemic index as well.

Not to get too deep into the nutrient side of this dish, let's just say you get a lot of health and taste bang for your 30 minutes start-to-table.

Fresh autumn pears are a sweet accompaniment to this savory lentil dish

Fresh autumn pears are a sweet accompaniment to this savory lentil dish

Next time you're low on steam and time, give this quick, vegetarian one-dish-meal a try. I'd like to know whether your family enjoys it as much as mine do, so don't be shy about rating it or leaving a comment afterward.

Rate this recipe!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

20 min

30 min

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small to medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 medium heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely shredded
  • 3 ribs celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small lime, juice only
  • 1/2 cup fresh plain yogurt, with live cultures

Additional nutrients

*I obtained the nutritional data for this recipe from a utility on RecipeNutrition.com, which includes a caveat identical or nearly so to the one you see on the nutrition label above.

Nutrient% Daily Value*

Vitamin A

63

Vitamin C

55

Calcium

8

Iron

33

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan or small soup pot, bring 4 cups of water to boil.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, rinse the lentils and set aside to drain. Chop the onion and mince the garlic and jalapeño pepper.
  3. Stir lentils into the water so slowly that the boiling never stops.
  4. Reduce the heat to simmer and add the prepared vegetables, salt, and celery seeds.
  5. Chop the un-skinned tomatoes fine and stir into the pot. (Don't worry: the skins will disappear. Heirloom tomatoes have tender skins that melt away.)
  6. Shred the carrot and add.
  7. Slice the celery stalks horizontally on the rib, cutting only the larger pieces in half or thirds. Chop the leaves; add all to pot.
  8. Add lime juice, stir, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, depending on how you like your lentils. We prefer our lentils whole and a tiny bit chewy. Cook 5 minutes longer if you prefer a softer lentil.
  9. Serve in bowls with a dollop of homemade Greek or plain yogurt and whole or sliced pears on the side.

Thank You

Thank you for visiting this page. I encourage you to tweak this recipe and let me know how you change it up. That's part of the fun of cooking, yes?

© 2014 Kathryn Grace

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