I think that vegetarianism is starting to take a deeper hold in the American psyche. A few years ago, if someone said she was a vegetarian chances are strange looks would follow. When many hear the word ‘vegetarian’ they immediately think of a person who only eats salads; but this is not true! Vegetarian food options are just as diverse as their carnivorous counterparts, if not more so. By taking meat off of your plate you are giving fruits, vegetables, and legumes a chance to steal the show. And steal the show they will!
There is a wide array of vegetarian food options that you can use when you are preparing a vegetarian meal or dish. One with which I recently fell in love is lentils. These legumes are a powerhouse with 30% of their calories being protein; they are a great way of adding lean protein to your diet without the fat or cholesterol. In addition to protein, lentils are a great source of fiber and a good source of iron and B vitamins.
Below is my favorite lentil dish, to date. If this is your first time eating lentils heed my warning: you will get hooked!
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups water
- 12 ounces brown lentils, soaked in cold water to cover for 2 hours, drained and rinsed
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- Dash of cayenne
- In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes
- Add the water, lentils, ginger, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cinnamon, bay leaf, and cayenne.
- Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, adding more liquid if necessary, until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes