In recent months I’ve been trying to increase my family’s consumption of legumes. Legumes are high in fiber, low in fat, high in protein, and super cost effective, not to mention – tasty. I also think in the scheme of things, they are pretty easy to prepare and hard to wreck. Seriously, when was the last time you had a rotten lentil? This lentil dish stands alone as a wonderful lunch, or makes a great side dish at dinner. We like to eat these particular lentils with poached or grilled salmon. There is something fabulous about the dark color of the black lentils up against the pink of the salmon. This dish packs a mild punch spice-wise. If you want a bigger punch, double the red pepper flakes. If you want no punch at all – drop them entirely.
Beluga Lentils & Spinach (8-10 servings)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 1 ½ cups onion, finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups celery, diced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups Beluga lentils, rinsed and picked over
- Two 15-oz cans tomato sauce
- One 15-oz can fire roasted tomatoes with chilies
- One 15-oz can chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (prefer low salt, organic – water will work too)
- 3 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
In a soup pot or Dutch Oven heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion, the shallots, the celery and the red pepper flakes. Sauté until the onion is soft, 10-12 minutes.
Once the lentils are rinsed and picked over place them in the soup pot with the sautéed onions, cover them with the tomato sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes, chopped tomatoes and chicken broth. Add the dried basil and dried oregano. Bring this to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked through. This should take approximately 90 minutes. Once the lentils are cooked through, add the spinach and allow it to wilt (1-2 minutes at the very most). Once it is wilted, serve immediately. In my view this dish is a bit more lovely with a dollop of sour cream on top when you serve it. Everyone who ate it at lunch today agreed. I leave actual sour cream use up to you.