I've been dealing with a lot of stress lately, taking care of my elderly mother, and one of the things that has fallen away a bit too much for my liking is healthy eating. Between grabbing some fast food in the hospital cafeteria, or just falling back on old comfort food favorites that I can cook without thinking about it, I'm really missing my usual vegetable- and legume-packed diet.
 
According to The Toronto Star, St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto has just completed a study showing that eating one serving a day of lentils or chickpeas or other pulses can significantly reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Lentils are also fantastic for anyone with Type 2 diabetes because they have a low glycemic index. They are packed with fiber and protein. They are also loaded with iron, so they are a good choice for vegetarians worried about anemia. Clearly it's time for me to get back to lentils.
 
You can use canned lentils for convenience, but I often make a few cups of them, boiling them for about 20 minutes or so, then have them on hand in the refrigerator and use them in a variety of ways. There are lots of great Indian recipes, as well as Middle Eastern dishes, that use lentils. One of my favorite ways to eat them is to make a salad with lentils, some chopped carrots, green onions and red peppers with maybe a bit of feta cheese with a simple vinaigrette dressing. You can use them in an endless variety of soups as well.
 
This recipe is from The Toronto Star (April 8, 2014). It suggests serving the curry on quinoa, but I served it first on couscous and then later on rice, which were both good. Because tomatoes are out of season, I used my canned tomatoes, which worked perfectly.

Prep time: Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes 

Total time: 30 minutes 

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

 
Thai Curry and Coconut Lentils

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp Thai red curry paste, or to taste
  • 16-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 19-ounce can green lentils, rinsed drained or 2 cups cooked green lentils
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Cooked quinoa for serving (optional)
Cooking directions
  1. In medium, non-stick skillet or saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring, until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in curry paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Add coconut milk and raise the heat to high; bring to a boil. Boil 4 minutes to reduce slightly. Stir in lentils and reduce heat to medium. Simmer 5 minutes to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread quinoa, if using, on a plate or in a bowl. Top with lentils.