Recently, somebody put in a request for a lentil recipe, so that's what I'm here to give you today. While it seems like all I've posted for the last month is chicken recipes, I actually try to eat vegetarian dinners at least one or two nights a week. It's healthy, and cheap. The double whammy of awesomeness. Lentils, beans and eggs are huge staples for these vegetarian nights.
The best lentil dish I've ever tasted is "Lentils Like Baked Beans" from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts, a cookbook souvenir I brought back from Montreal last summer. Eating at Joe Beef was an experience - we ate so many unique and delicious things, including eel nuggets (with three dipping sauces that sort of made them resemble McNuggets!), a sweetbread and lobster dish, and a dessert that was supposed to look like a baked potato but was really a combination of crunchy meringue and melted chocolate.
When I got home from Montreal, I just waited for the temperature to cool down again, when "lentils like baked beans" would be warm and comforting. And when I finally got to make that dish, I fell in love. I knew I could adapt the recipe in endless ways, and that's what I've done here. While the original Joe Beef recipe has a bit of bacon in it, these Lentil Sloppy Joes are 99% vegetarian (omit the Worcestershire for strict vegetarians), 100% simple, and are satisfying and filling, even for those who typically prefer meat. The lentils are simmered until they are tender, all the while being flavored with sweetness from brown sugar and tomato sauce, acidity from apple cider vinegar, saltiness from Worcestershire sauce, and a bit of kick from cayenne pepper and yellow mustard. Serve the lentils in crisp, cool lettuce leaves, on their own, or topped with a poached egg. This recipe was my entry for the Food52.com contest for the week of 2/25: "Your Best Cheap Feast."
Does anybody else have any requests? Either a specific ingredient, a dish, or a type of food? Let me know in the comments, and I'll see if I can whip something up for you!
Lentil Sloppy Joe Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from "Lentils Like Baked Beans" recipe in The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red or green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 large iceberg lettuce leaves
2. Stir in remaining ingredients, except lettuce. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf.
3. Serve lentils wrapped in lettuce leaves.