Braised Green Lentils
February 18, 2011
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In many parts of the world meat is used as a flavoring element rather than as the central ingredient or a meal. Not only is that economically and environmentally desirable but it is nutritionally better as well. This recipe shows how a small amount of meat, in this case homemade smoked pancetta, can add a great deal of flavor to a dish without adding much fat. I served these over brown rice that I cooked in the oven along with the lentils. Of course, you could leave the meat out altogether and still have a lovely dinner. I adapted this recipe, quite loosely, from Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef (New York: Hyperion, 2000) 162.
- 12 ounces green lentils
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion
- 3 or 4 sprigs fresh parsley
- 3 ounces smoked pancetta or bacon, coarsely chopped
- Olive oil
- 3 cups pork or chicken stock, or water
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse the lentils well and set to drain. Put the garlic into the working bowl of a food processor and mince finely. Add the parsley and chop well. Finally add the onion and pulse to a medium texture. Set aside.
Brown the pancetta for about 3 or 4 minutes in a heavy pot with a tightly-fitting lid over medium heat adding a bit of olive oil if needed to prevent sticking. Add the vegetables and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until softened but not browned. Mix in the lentils then stir in the stock. Season with a good grind of black pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and braise in the oven, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes or until the stock is absorbed. Taste and season with salt.