Lentils. Yum. They're one of my favorites. One of my favorite recipes comes from Chris Maher, and a wonderful Middle Eastern cooking class I took with him last year. The original recipe is drowning in oil, so I took it upon myself to health it up, and simplify it while I was at it. The result was nothing short of clean-your-plate goodness. This is not only vegan, gluten free, and oil free, it's a delicious, comforting protein bomb!
Lentils and Onions
1 cup green lentils, washed and soaked all day if possible (lentils do not need to be soaked at all, but an all day bath will wake them up, begin the sprouting process, and make them more nutritious than ever)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp cumin
2 T oregano, tarragon, or basil, dried or fresh
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T tamari, or to taste
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
1-2 cups cooked quinoa
2 T Sriracha (rooster) sauce
2 T maple syrup
In a large pot, cover the soaked lentils with water and bring to a boil. After 5 minutes, drain the rinse the foamy stuff off of the lentils and rinse the pot. (This does wonders to help remove the "gas" from the lentils. The same trick works for beans too.)
Place the lentils back in the pot, cover with water about 2 inches above the lentils.
Add the garlic, cumin (also a gas reducer), herbs, and red pepper flakes.
Bring to a boil, and continue to boil gently, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, adding more water if necessary.
After the lentils have been cooking for about 30 minutes, start the quinoa. (If you don't know how to do this, it's much like rice. Rinse it very well, to remove the bitter coating. Bring quinoa to a boil with twice as much water as quinoa. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat, stir the quinoa to fluff, cover the pan again, and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.)
Once the quinoa is cooking away, heat a dry non-stick skillet to medium-high.
Toss the sliced onions into the hot skillet and stir frequently as they caramelize. Add a little bit of water now and then if the onions start to stick. You do not need oil. Really.
When the lentils are cooked, but not mushy, turn up the heat to boil off any extra water, and add tamari to taste. (Adding salt to cooking legumes of any kind toughens the surface of them, and slows down the cooking process. The same thing happens if you add acids, like tomatoes. Thank you Tassajara for that tidbit!)
Make a quick sauce by stirring together the Sriracha and maple syrup.
To serve, spread a layer of quinoa on each plate, topped with lentils, and then onions. Drizzle a little bit of sauce on to taste. It's a hot one, but we kept going back for more!