Sometimes when I read tweets or see Instagrams of people packing just a sandwich for lunch, it blows my mind a little bit. I mean, unluckily for me, one sandwich on two pieces of loaf bread would never tide me over till dinner. I don’t know if my metabolism is abnormally fast or what, but I need to pack a lot of food to make it through the day.
So in addition to the various snacks I try to remember to pack, I also try really hard to come up with a main meal that will keep me feeling full as long as possible. One of my main allies in this mission are lentils.
Lentils don’t need soaking
While I really enjoy making a big batch of cooked beans, the overnight soaking and the longer cooking time does mean that beans usually get relegated to a weekend activity. Lentils don’t need either of those things and can thus easily be made on a week night when you’re looking for a all-around nutritious main ingredient for a salad or stew for the very next day’s lunch. I can feel your skepticism mounting as I try to convince you that making lentils really IS easy! I used to have my own doubts, but now that I know that making certain types of lentils will only take me about twice the time that cooking a pot of pasta will take me, I think twice about what I will make for my “quick dinner”.
For as long as I can remember, my go-to, like that of most people, has been a bowl of (not whole-wheat) pasta with a jar of store-bought tomato sauce. And while that is in fact, probably quicker than this Quick Red Lentil Curry I’m about to share with you, you will be amazed at how easily this comes together without you paying it any attention.
This Red Lentil Curry is practically a one-pot wonder!
Plus you have the major added benefit of knowing that you are eating a whole, unprocessed food that is a good source of protein and iron, as well as a great source of dietary fiber, folate (support red blood cell and prevents anemia) and manganese (helps control blood sugar and can help protect you skin from UV damage).
Freezing single-portion containers
I get super excited about making a huge pot of curry or stew and then portioning it into reusable containers and freezing them. The beauty of having more than one kind of frozen stew or curry in the freezer is that you can change it up throughout the week. For example I’ll often make some kind of salad for the first 2 or 3 days, prepping all the veggies that will keep well and then pull something from the freezer for the last couple of days and that’s the week sorted.
Simple Red Lentil Curry
Makes 4-5 servings/lunches and freezes really well in an air-tight container.
What you’ll need:
- generous pour of canola or peanut oil
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 tbs curry powder
- 2 tbs fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 large potato, skin on
- 4 cups (approx. 1L) vegetable broth*
- couple wedges of lime, to serve, optional
- spoonful of Greek yogurt, to serve, optional
- chopped herbs of your choice (mint, coriander, parsley), to serve, optional
*For the vegetable broth, the best we have in France, other than making your own, are the Vegetable Bouillon Cubes. I use 2 cubes diluted in about 1 litre of hot water. If using bouillon cubes, between steps 1 and 2, boil approximately 1L (4 cups) water and dissolve your bouillon cubes.
- Heat a good pour of oil on medium-high heat. Cook the onions, the ginger and the garlic until soft, about 4 minutes.
- Add the curry powder and stir in. Add the rest of the ingredients.
- Bring the contents to a boil and then reduce the heat so that the liquid simmers.
- Cook until vegetables and lentils are tender. This should take between 10 and 20 minutes depending on your stove top.
- Serve with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and garnish with fresh herb.
If you’re packing this for lunch, pack the Greek yogurt and the mint, coriander or parsley in a separate, small container. Once you heat up the curry at lunchtime, the cooler yogurt and herbs will make for a great contrast! It’s the little things, like toppings on your main dish, that keep things interesting.
Recipe adapted from Real Simple.