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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 Lentils | A Sweet Spoonful

Oven-Braised Red Lentils

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 70 mins
Total Time: 80 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.


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


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.

  1. Posted March 20, 2010 at 7:59 am

    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. Posted March 20, 2010 at 9:43 am

    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
    Posted March 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    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. Posted March 20, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    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. Posted March 21, 2010 at 2:51 am

    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. Posted March 21, 2010 at 6:19 am

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

  7. Posted March 21, 2010 at 10:04 am

    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. Posted March 21, 2010 at 11:12 am

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

  9. Lisa
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 5:33 am

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

  10. Posted March 22, 2010 at 6:25 am

    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
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 6:28 am

    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. Posted March 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    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. Posted March 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    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. Posted March 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    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. Posted March 23, 2010 at 5:55 am

    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. Posted March 23, 2010 at 9:02 am

    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. Posted March 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

    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. Posted March 23, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    your photos are gorgeous–a true treat

  19. Posted March 25, 2010 at 10:17 am

    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
    Posted March 30, 2010 at 4:14 pm

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

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

  21. Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Great photo, just found your blog and I am loving it! Things recipe looks right up my alley.

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