Happy New Lentils Year!
You heard me! Lentils are the winners of my to-cook list for the whole new year and beyond. Probably, my Italian DNA plays a role in this choice: it's a tradition to eat lentils on NYE. Red, green, brown or black lentils are here to stay as the staple base for many dishes to come. The reasons for my choice are super simple: lentils are fast to cook, can shine on their own or as a side to other dishes, and are loaded with nutrition and fully good for regenerating the soil.
As I read in an article by Kim Severson, in The New York Times ( happily available to read by 6 million digital subscribers), "calling yourself a climatarian is so 2022. The new term is regenivore. It's no longer about eating sustainably, which implies a state of preserving what is. A new generation wants food from companies that are actively healing the planet through carbon-reducing agriculture, more rigorous animal welfare policies and equitable treatment of the people who grow and process food".
Say no more. I dived (or dove for the brits) into the web and brought many discoveries about the powers of lentils as regenerative crops, as per civil eats org: "Protein-rich lentils have been a food source for thousands of years. Lentils are drought-resistant, making them an ideal crop to grow in Montana’s dry climate. As a legume, lentils take nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it to a nutrient source in the soil to feed crops grown after them. When grown in rotation with other crops, lentils also help to control weeds, reducing the need for chemical herbicides."
As for nutrition, there are few other pulses as rich as lentils. It's loaded with calcium, iron, and precious folate. According to WebMD, one of the best options for plant protein. It sounds like a no-brainer!
My favourite way to eat lentils is with organic white jasmine rice, cooked in the same pot with plenty of onions.
The ingredients are:
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tbsp extra virgin oil, not a bitter one plus more to drizzle later
2 cups green lentils
10 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
4 cups organic jasmine rice, check the package to make sure it's the one which cooks in 20-25 minutes
I start choosing a sturdy pot with plenty of room for both lentils and rice to mingle. I rinse the rice thoroughly, this will make it cleaner and less starchy.
Then I add the olive oil and spices on low flame and wait for the onions to cook. When they are almost transparent I add the lentils and stir them. Water comes next, and we bring the whole thing to a boil, finally adding the rice. After the contents of the pot are boiling again, go for low flame, and close the pot. Set the timer for 18 minutes. Open the pot and check if it's all dry. Fluff it all with a fork, close the pot again and cover it with a cotton kitchen towel. Leave it on the stove for 10 minutes. You can then add some caramelized onions from the market or make your own, slicing 3 onions and cooking them for 25 minutes on low flame with olive oil.
You can use the rice later to mix with other vegetables, building another dish.