Depending on how they’re cooked, lentils can be divine or awful. My first introduction to lentils at my college cafeteria was much closer to the latter: mushy, brown, devoid of any other flavor except salt. I only later realized that just a little bit more flavor from vegetables and seasoning will turn the lowly lentil to something delectable, maybe even elegant!
Lentils, of course, are a staple in Moroccan cuisine. My college friend, who is French-Moroccan by descent, once told me her family eats lentils at least a few times a week. This recipe was inspired by the meeting of those two cultures: the depth of lentils, a little hint of spice, French herbs and flavors of a ratatouille. I also wanted to make the lentils al dente rather than soupy for beautiful presentation. For some extra French touch, drizzle or dot your plate with a bit of truffle oil–and voila! You have a lentil dish that’s fit for a dinner party.
Vegan French Lentil Ratatouille
about 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp coriander
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup French lentils
3 cups water
1 medium plum tomato, chopped
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/4 tsp dried herbs de Provence (in a pinch, you could substitute thyme)
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp truffle oil (for garnish)
1. In a Dutch oven or thick-bottomed pot, add the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and carrots, and saute for a few minutes, until the onions start becoming translucent.
2. Add the garlic and coriander, and stir well. Add tomatoes.
3. The mixture will be very fragrant and sizzling nicely. Add lentils, 2.5 cups of water, marinara sauce, herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Bring to boil for a few minutes, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
4. Check to make sure the lentils are not sticking. Add broccoli, and remaining 1/2 cup of water. Simmer gently for another 25 minutes or so, or until the lentils are al dente and all the water is absorbed. Drizzle with a bit of truffle oil, and serve warm.
Related Recipes: Vegan Red Curry Risotto
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling