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

Early Fall Baking

Apple Picking + Dorie’s Custardy Apple Squares

Apple Picking + Dorie’s Custardy Apple Squares

Last weekend we went apple picking up near Yakima, a good three hours east of Seattle. We drove over to Harmony Orchards with our friends Brandi and John and met up with many other groups and families to amble about the rows and rows of apples in the unusually warm sun. We missed the annual picking last year as we were on our honeymoon, but the previous year was the one in which we made the colossal mistake of picking over 70 pounds of apples. I've never made so much applesauce in my life. This year we practiced restraint in bringing home a cool 38 pounds and after getting them all situated in the basement, I started to leaf through a few cookbooks looking for a great apple recipe -- something, preferably, that used quite a few apples, wasn't too sweet and could double as breakfast or dessert (really, the best kind of recipe). And that's exactly what we have in these Custardy Apple Squares. 

Read More
Dark and Spicy Pumpkin Loaf

Dark and Spicy Pumpkin Loaf

It turns out that returning from a sunny honeymoon to a rather rainy, dark stretch of Seattle fall hasn't been the easiest transition. Sam and I have been struggling a little to find our groove with work projects and even simple routines like cooking meals for one another and getting out of the easy daily ruts that can happen to us all. When we were traveling, we made some new vows to each other -- ways we can keep the fall and winter from feeling a bit gloomy, as tends to happen at a certain point living in the Pacific Northwest (for me, at least): from weekly wine tastings at our neighborhood wine shop to going on more lake walks. And I suppose that's one of the most energizing and invigorating parts about travel, isn't it? The opposite of the daily rut: the constant newness and discovery around every corner. One of my favorite small moments in Italy took place at a cafe in Naples when I accidentally ordered the wrong pastry and, instead, was brought this funny looking cousin of a croissant. We had a wonderfully sunny little table with strong cappuccino, and, disappointed by my lack of ordering prowess, I tried the ugly pastry only to discover my new favorite treat of all time (and the only one I can't pronounce): the sfogliatelle. I couldn't stop talking about this pastry, its thick flaky layers wrapped around a light, citrus-flecked sweet ricotta filling. It was like nothing I'd ever tried -- the perfect marriage of interesting textures and flavors. I became a woman obsessed. I began to see them displayed on every street corner; I researched their origin back at the hotel room, and started to look up recipes for how to recreate them at home. And the reason for the fascination was obviously that they were delicious. But even more: I'm so immersed in the food writing world that I rarely get a chance to discover a dish or a restaurant on my own without hearing tell of it first. And while a long way away from that Italian cafe, I had a similar feeling this week as I scanned the pages of Alice Medrich's new book, Flavor Flours, and baked up a loaf of her beautiful fall pumpkin loaf: Discovery, newness, delight!

Read More
Honeyed Spelt Cornbread with Fresh Cranberries

Honeyed Spelt Cornbread with Fresh Cranberries

I am writing this on Saturday afternoon on a day when we had big plans to conquer pre-baby chore lists, but Sam's not feeling great and my energy's a little low so it hasn't been quite what we'd envisioned. My goals for the morning were to repot a house plant and make some soup and I've done neither. I will say that the sweet potato and fennel are still sitting on the counter eagerly awaiting their Big Moment -- it just hasn't come about quite yet. Sam and I were both going to attempt to install the carseat, but it started to look really daunting so we abandoned ship; it's now sitting proudly in the basement, also eagerly awaiting its Big Moment. So it's been one of those weekends -- the kind you look back on and wonder what it is you actually accomplished. At the very least, I get the chance to tell you about this hearty cranberry cornbread. I know maybe it feels premature in the season for cranberry recipes, but hang with me here: slathered with a little soft butter and runny honey, there's nothing I'd rather eat right now on the cool, crisp Seattle mornings we've been having lately.  

Read More
Morning Glory Crumble Muffins

Morning Glory Crumble Muffins

I rarely make muffins at home and never order one when I'm out and about as I find they're often far too sweet and never truly that satisfying. I realize, too, in looking back at my cookbook that there's only one muffin recipe throughout. Case in point: I'm tentative on muffins. But not these. We've been pretty thrilled to have this healthier version of Morning Glory muffins on the counter this week; they have little bits of apple, raisins, walnuts, and grated carrot and are cloaked in a buttery oat crumble topping -- quite the opposite of your boring coffeeshop fare. I thought long and hard about doing a Valentine's post, some festive cookie or confection that would be share-worthy this weekend, but the more we talked about what our weekend would really look like, it involved something special for breakfast instead. I don't remember the last time a Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday, so we have big plans to have breakfast in bed and if your plans are even remotely similar, these muffins would be a fine inclusion.

Read More
Weekends and Figs

Weekends and Figs

I generally work on weekends. It's something I've come to terms with only because I know it won't last forever. I write. I bake. But those two things don't always pay the bills, so I work retail on the weekends and dream of the day when I'll have a Sunday like this one:

Read More