Waiting

oven braised lentils

Spring is officially here. Many of you will probably read this post on Saturday and yes, it’s the first day of spring. I know it’s been one long, ruthless winter for much of the country. So while we’re lucky here in the Bay Area to wear our flip-flops year round (or at least I do), we’re excited about warmer weather, too. We’re all waiting for a little change, a little more light, a little growth. Waiting.

Waiting for springAnd here’s just the recipe for you. I’ve recently fallen in love with braises because you put your ingredients in a big pot, put it in the oven and then you move on with your life until it’s ready to be taken out of the oven.  It’s passive, it’s simple, and it’s slow. So on this first day of spring when so many of us are looking ahead to a little more sunshine, a little more light, a little more time off, a little more happiness or fulfillment or money or whatever it may be for you– just know that there’s something to be said for paying attention to what’s simmering away right in front of you. And with that, I bring you my new go-to recipe for lentils and the wish that you find a little pleasure in the waiting.

dried red lentils

Oven-Braised Red Lentils

Oven-Braised Red Lentils

  • Yield: 4-6
  • Prep time: 10 mins
  • Cook time: 1 hr 10 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr 20 mins

This recipe is the result of much experimentation. It’s not quite a dal, but not quite a delicate lentil dish either. The flavors are quite simple, so if you prefer more of an Indian-spiced dish, feel free to play around with the addition of ginger, turmeric, coriander and other warm spices. And certainly use whichever variety of lentils you have on hand for this. I just happen to think the red ones are especially nice to look at. Last, I used grapeseed oil here because it can hold a much higher temperature than olive oil. I’m a recent convert.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 cup (7 oz) red lentils
1/2 while or yellow onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 celery stalk, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more if needed to cover
Salt and fresh pepper
chopped cilantro for garnish

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 250 F. Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear and pick through, getting rid of any bad/discolored ones. Heat grapeseed oil in an ovenproof pot over medium heat, adding the vegetables, garlic, and onion and cooking for about ten minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add lentils, and cook for one minute. Add the vegetable stock until it just covers the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven.

Braise the lentils until thickened, about 45 minutes to one hour. They should resemble a substantial dal. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and sprinkle with chopped cilantro for garnish.

Comments

  1. allison from "a for aubergine"

    i love lentils and never thought of oven braising them. what a great idea. i think this recipe looks so fresh. i can't wait to try it!

  2. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    A beautiful inter-season dish Megan! I love lentils and I love dishes you can prepare and then forget about until they are ready. Your photos are stunning, by the way!

  3. Rachael

    I've had a bag of black lentils laying around for awhile...I think I will make this and add in some chunks of roasted sweet potato for color at the end! Thanks for the great recipe again!

  4. A Canadian Foodie

    I too, am waiting... for the grass to shoot up from under the icy snow in our backyard. For the mold to be raked from the grass in the front... for the sun to shine longer than an hour a day... and for the warm spring breezes to bring in the colour green....

  5. Trissa

    I love lentils - especially with some smoked ham hock - it becomes a substantial meal! I will try your recipe one day - question - no need to soak the lentils right?

  6. Cara

    I love lentils and I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy them. Braising sounds great!

  7. Dana

    Mmm, that looks like just the trick.

    The snow is all melted, but spring hasn't quite hit my area yet. Everything is brown, it's nice to see something red. And lentils are so good for you too!

    You're growing lemon cucumber? So incredibly worth it!

  8. El

    Lentils are wonderful. Can't wait to try it!

  9. Lisa

    Love the spring photos. Seems so hopeful. Wish I could start something here - a little too early I think.

  10. Ash

    What a lovely little dish!! I'm so glad I just stumbled upon your blog!! great stuff!! You know I'll be back!!

  11. megang

    Oy, Trissa. Thanks. Yes, you should rinse the lentils--no need to soak for too long though. And yes, a ham hock would be great. A lot of recipes I first consulted called for bacon.

    And Dana, I was house sitting this weekend actually which is where I snapped the photo of the window box garden. I've been inspired to start one of my own though.

    And the rest of you ladies, thanks for the comments (do guys EVER comment on blogs?!) Sounds like there's some lentil fans out there...

  12. Kasey

    I am SO ready for spring, too. The excitement of farmers markets filled with more than just apples and root vegetables excites me so. Have fun at Aziza! This looks quite interesting and I'm excited to try it.

  13. Denise | Chez Danisse

    Nice idea. I haven't made lentils in a while and I just might have some reds up in my cabinet. I bet this makes your apartment smell nice too. Thanks.

  14. kellypea

    Sounds perfect to me! I love braises, and in Southern Cal, spring isn't always the warmest time of year. I've been thinking of beans, and spicy broths. Mmmm...Lentils work for me.

  15. Manggy

    Oh, yes to more spices, please. It's very warm (okay, who am I kidding... hot) here these days, but it's always a good time for a delicious, spicy, and nutritious meal :)

  16. allison lemons

    Your photos are awesome! Really beautiful. And these lentils sound like a perfect way to make up for all the meat I've been eating lately.

  17. Valerie

    I was just skimming my emails before running out the door, and thinking 'Lordy, what am I going to make for dinner tonight?' And there it was, your yummy-looking recipe for lentils. It's hard to find things to feed my legume-loving-but-picky husband, but I think this will do the trick. Thanks!

  18. Casey

    your photos are gorgeous--a true treat

  19. Shannalee

    This has inspired me. I love the idea of braising, but I'm totally a newbie when it comes to lentils. No idea what they should taste like or anything! I want to try this soon and see how it goes!

    ps - I haven't popped through to your layout in a while I guess because I just noticed the new look! I like it!

  20. megang

    Thanks for the photo/blog compliments Allison, Casey and Shannalee.

    Valerie, Kellypea, and Denise: happy to provide a little lentil nudge. Hope you enjoy!

Join the Discussion

Seasonal Selections

Summer in September

Summer in September

My good friend Keena was working in India for the last few months and just returned to Seattle, eager to experience as much Pacific Northwest summer as possible in September. I'm with her on this one: It just so happens that towards the end of this month, the farmers markets I've been doing will also come to an end, so things seem like they're both simultaneously gearing up (hike! picnic! beach!) and wrapping up at the same time as I also feel a sense of wanting to cram in as much as I can before the days start getting noticeably shorter. And truly: there's no better recipe to commemorate such efforts than these fresh corn grits with oil-poached summer tomatoes.

Read More
Yogurt Crepes with Berries and Yogurt Whipped Cream

Yogurt Crepes with Berries and Yogurt Whipped Cream

For many years, I've always made a summer to-do list. I usually set to work on it right at the beginning of June when the days feel long and ripe with possibility. The list often involves things like learning to bake sourdough bread or making homemade ricotta, doing an epic hike I'd read about in a local magazine, training for a marathon, or reading specific novels. It is always a pretty aspirational list, and I generally don't make much of a dent in it -- resulting in the guilty feeling come late August that I'd wasted too many lazy afternoons when I could've been baking sourdough or making ricotta or doing memorable, epic hikes. But this summer is going to be a bit different: there will be no list. We wait so long in Seattle for long stretches of sunny days, and now that it stays late until 9:30 (or later?), I want to see more of our friends and find stretches of time to do not much of anything except catch up, tan our legs and eat farmers market berries. That's my list.

Read More
Sara’s Peach Derby Ice Cream

Sara’s Peach Derby Ice Cream

I received The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon cookbook in the mail not long before we moved to our new house, and I remember lying in bed and bookmarking pages I was excited to try but also feeling overwhelmed with where to start: the truth is that this summer has been a relatively low-inspiration / low energy time in the kitchen for me. I'd been chalking it up to pregnancy but when I think back and if I'm honest with myself, my cooking style tends to be very easy and produce-driven during these warmer months. I rarely break out complicated recipes, instead relying on fresh tomatoes and corn or zucchini and homemade pesto to guide me. But last night I cracked open Sara's book and pulled out a few peaches I've had sitting on the counter, fearing their season may be nearing its end. This morning as I was making coffee, I sliced up the peaches, toasted the pecans and churned away -- having a bite (or maybe two) before getting it into the freezer to firm up. 

Read More
Confetti Quinoa Salad

Confetti Quinoa Salad

We just returned from my mom's cabin on Lake George in upstate New York where we often spend the 4th of July. As usual, each bedroom was packed with family members (this year the couch was even occupied for a night), and our days with reading, lounging on the dock, swimming a bit, maybe jogging down the road or playing tennis if you were feeling ambitious. We drank a notable amount of seltzer water; I managed to read three books and my mom threw us a family baby shower complete with balloons, chocolate cake and Mike's rhubarb bars. In previous years, my mom has planned most of the dinners and  even some lunches, but for breakfast we'd all fend for ourselves. I'd often bake a pie or a batch of brownies in the afternoon and everyone would help out where they could, but she would largely do the shopping and brunt of the cooking. This year was different: having just moved from California to Vermont, my mom had a lot on her plate and sent out an email before the holiday weekend asking us all to chip in and help with the meals. Sam and I claimed Friday dinner: we grilled sausages and Sam made his famous deviled eggs. We cut up some unusually seedy watermelon that I found at the co-op in Burlington before we drove out to the lake, and I made a summery quinoa salad that I expected to be kind of epic. The trouble was that it wasn't. I overcooked the quinoa until it was kind of a congealed mush and everything just went downhill from there. But I knew that the idea was strong -- to pack a whole grain salad with all the things of summer (corn! tomatoes! basil!) -- so when we got home to Seattle I tried again. And this time it's a winner.

Read More