Forever lentils.

All winter long, I ate lentils. I made them often and ate them greedily, thinking, for some reason, that winter is the only season for lentils. Of course you could have them a few times in the late fall, when the weather starts to get blustery, and even once or twice at the very onset of spring, when it’s still freezing out. But, when you did that, you’d be eating the dish out-of-season.

Towards the end of winter, I began feeling blue over this. I had been nourishing my little family of two (with some leftovers for the dog) for the whole winter. Lentils provided many substantial dinners, lunches, and even breakfasts. I had made lentils of all kinds—red, green, black, yellow—and every dish was different then the last; lentils are infinitely adaptable.

What was I going to do for all those upcoming seasons? Sure, I consoled myself with thoughts of berries, green veggies, lettuces, and tomatoes, but I couldn’t shake the sadness over losing lentils. And then, after weeks of this edging melancholy, I realized, like duh, why can’t lentils be made for any season? Of course! Just because you are making a lentil stew, that doesn’t mean you need to fill it with canned tomatoes and mustard greens. There’s no need for smoky pimento or turnips or squash. I had spent the entire winter fooling around with lentils and I never even thought about how far I could go—switch up the other ingredients and you can do anything with lentils!

When the weather began to turn up the heat, I was ready with a few notebook pages full of spring lentil ideas. This one encapsulates the beginning of spring—mint, peas, and carrots. It’s the perfect side dish for pork or lamb—a touch sweet, a bit salty, and very green. While it’s still a hardy dish (great for this fickle weather), the peas and mint are redolent of all the light, brightness of spring

Spring Lentils with Peas and Mint

serves 6

3 slices bacon, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 bunch carrots, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bouillon cube
2 cups lentils, french
8 oz. green peas, frozen, not thawed (or fresh if you find nice, young ones)
1-2 tablespoons mint, fresh, chopped
a big pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Render bacon fat in a large dutch oven. When crisp, remove bacon and reserve on paper towels.

Add onion and carrot to dutch oven with rendered fat. Let cook until beginning to color. Add garlic.

Meanwhile, bring lentils to boil in a small saucepan with water. Let cook 15-20 minutes or until barely tender. Drain lentils.

Add lentils to dutch oven with bouillon cube and 3 cups water, simmer for 5 minutes. Add peas and let cook another 10-15 minutes, or until all the vegetables are cooked and a lot of the water has been absorbed. If you like, blend some of the lentils with an immersion blender for a few pulses to thicken. Season with salt, pepper, and mint.

19 thoughts on “Forever lentils.”

  1. I LOVE lentils. I have been cooking them and tossing them into salads but this is another light option! Great picture!

  2. I too love lentils but rarely get around to eating them. I’ll almost always order the lentil soup at a restaurant if they have one and I love that yellow lentil soup/stew thing you find at Indian restaurant. I really ought to make something with lentils, I think I tend to shy away from ingredients I’m not familiar with. This seems like a simple enough recipe to start with, although I’d have to ditch the peas because they freak me out. Carrots sound wonderful in it though!

  3. Oh yeah I totally get the lentil love. Funny how we talk ourselves into such despair over the loss of a beloved food item! I already miss chili and it isn’t even the end of May!

    I love this lentil idea. I’m thinking pretty yellow split peas and asparagus sound yummy, and spring like right about now.

  4. I’m going to make this for my husband’s 66th birthday tonight!

    Looks delicious. And his doctor has recommended that he get more fiber in his diet to assist with his regularity issues. So this really “fits the bill.”

    Great post!

  5. I’m sorry if I am posting this twice….

    I am going tomake this for my husband, The Doc’s, 66th birthday celebration tonight.

    Looks Delicious. And his doctor has told him to eat more fiber to assist with his serious regularity issues, so this really “fits the bill.”

    Thank you so much. Great Post.

  6. that is one cool-looking bowl of lentils. I always took them growing for granted growing up because my mom is obsessed with them… now that I’m in college and eat them less than weekly, I’ve grown to appreciate them more. The honey-baked lentils sound yummy!

  7. I wish I was as good as you, I really like lentils too and i have tons in the cupboard but for some reason never remember that they are an option. I never grew up eating lentils or anything.

  8. what a beautiful picture of the dried lentils! That’s actually the sort of photo I’d love to hang in my kitchen. They’re so speckly and fractaly and, well, kinda cute, in a way. And the recipe sounds damn good to boot!

  9. I love lentils and am looking to incorporate lentils into our weekly meals. For some reason, I never get to do that. I have this impression that lentils take very long to cook and when I get home, there’s always no time to make the lentils.

    Do you have a summer lentil recipe? Or are they really just for winter (and now, spring)?

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