In the midst of a busy life, many of us can too easily succumb to feelings of pressure ( I know I can). Pressure to perform. Pressure to please. Pressure to be who we want to be. Maybe even pressure to be what we think others want us to be. Staying cool and calm amongst all these pressures can be tough. But it’s the only way to win (in my very humble opinion). Staying grounded starts with good nutrition. If we are fed well, our brains work and our bodies work. We can see things for what they really are.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Being well fed need not be complicated. Mixing together compatible ingredients that taste great, feed our bodies, and can be pulled together easily with (just a little) know how is really all it takes. The trick is to just keep it real. This recipe is the perfect start. French lentils make beautiful firm mouthfuls out of this dish, but any green or brown lentil will do, though cooking time will vary.
Hearty French Lentils:
(2) tbsp good olive oil
(1) large onion, chopped medium (2 cups chopped)
(1 – 1.5) tsp salt, or to taste
(2) tsp ground cumin
(3-4) carrots, peeled and cubed
(2) Tbsp garlic, minced (about 3-4 good-sized cloves)
(3) bay leaves
(2) tbsp tomato paste
(1) cup Puy or French lentils
(3-4) cups water (I used 3)
Start by putting up the olive oil to heat in a medium pot on medium high. When hot, add the chopped onion and salt and cook, stirring for 5-8 minutes or so until the onions are translucent.
Add the carrots, cumin, and garlic, and cook a further 5 minutes, stirring often, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Once all the veggies are glistening and the cumin is smelling fragrant and delicious, add the water, lentils, tomato paste, and bay leaves and stir to incorporate.
Bring to a boil on high. Once boiling, turn heat to medium-low (not low) and cook with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice from the bottom up. After the first 20 minutes, remove the lid and rest on the side of the pot so a little air can escape. Cook another 20 minutes (total of 40 minutes) stirring here and there.
Serve piping hot with crusty fresh bread, and top with your choice of olive oil, black pepper, fresh herbs, chopped chives or scallions, fresh tomato, or slices of red onion. You really can’t go wrong. This dish will keep for up to 5-6 days in your fridge (it gets better the longer it languishes) and freezes well too. So double it up if you want leftovers. Seriously! It could be because I grew up eating lentils, but I don’t know of a greater comfort food than this. There are endless variations to the uses for them, limited only by what is in season, or what you have on hand. They are cheap. They keep forever. They are for real.