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

Summer Desserts

Whole Grain Any-Fruit Crisp

Whole Grain Any-Fruit Crisp

On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing. 

Read More
Thick and Creamy Cherry Almond Ice Cream

Thick and Creamy Cherry Almond Ice Cream

This past week we've had quite a heat wave in Seattle. I've been getting into the bakery early in the mornings so as to avoid the afternoon heat + hot oven combination, and it turns out the upstairs of our new house is quite a little hot box. I bought some aggressive blinds and a new fan and am hoping both will help cool things down a bit. The wool blanket is in the linen closet for the season, and Sam's been making iced tea like it's his job. Summer has arrived! A few nights ago, the thought of actually doing much real cooking seemed a bit overwhelming, so I figured it was time to dig out the ice cream maker and get to work. I'd wanted to do something with the beautiful strawberries we have in the markets right now, but it seems every time I get a little pint it's gone before I have the chance. They are just so incredibly sweet, and it seems a shame to do anything other than eat them right out of the container, preferably while sitting on the Moroccan picnic blanket you brought back from honeymoon on the lawn in your new backyard trying not to stress out about the incredible, insurmountable number of weeds. So. Many. Weeds. But cherries: somehow the bag of cherries made it safely through the weekend, so I set about to find a great cherry ice cream recipe. 

Read More
No-Fuss Hot Fudge Sauce

No-Fuss Hot Fudge Sauce

When you have an eight month old baby, making social plans can be hard. Especially in the evenings. When I was pregnant, I read Bringing up Bebe and one of the big premises of the book is how the French feel strongly that babies and children can fit into your lives and that you shouldn't have to change and alter everything to accommodate them. I remember reading the book and thinking: YES! Life will be just as it was, except we'll have a small baby in tow. Obviously a few things would likely be different, but I didn't want to change our routines, change the way we cooked or approached time off together, or see our friends any less. Well of course I'm the fool. Or at the very least, I'm not as French as I thought I was. Today, we very much schedule things around Oliver's nap schedule and bedtime, but thankfully we have a lot of other friends with kids who get it. Friends who make homemade cookies, own ice cream businesses, and have really great taste in music. Friends who host the kind of occasion that warrants homemade hot fudge sauce and eating dessert first.

Read More
Dating Yourself

Dating Yourself

We're back! After a restful few days in Lake George, I ended up flying home while Sam spent a little time with his family in New Jersey and a few days in New York City by himself before taking the train all the way back to Seattle (a solid four day journey). If you know Sam, this isn't surprising; he loves trains. When he's gone, I quickly revert back to my single gal days of eating veggie quesadillas for dinner (over and over) and staying up working later than I'd like. We would talk on the phone often as Sam would narrate his very full days in New York City and the stops and layovers he had while on the train. After a few days of me lamenting the fact that I wasn't there to experience it all with him, he encouraged me to ditch the quesadillas and do something special for dinner. See a movie. Go to the museum for just an hour. In short: I needed to get better at dating myself.

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