Before I became a vegetarian I didn’t really know what a lentil was. I only knew my husband often ordered Sausage (or should I say pig guts) and Lentil soup at restaurants. So was it a bean, a noodle, rice? My first experience with Lentils was with a shepherd’s pie recipe. Basically, lentils were replacing the ground beef. So lentils must taste like beef right? Yah, sure, that’s what I was telling my poor hubby. In case you didn't know, Lentils do not taste like beef! I bought my first bag of lentils only .99cents. Beat that Mr. Cow! (I didn’t even know this aisle of the grocery store existed…beans, peas, bulgur,) Anyway the bag said to sort through the lentils and pick out stones and debris. Ok weird, but it’s better than removing the slimy organ bag from a dead chicken! So I washed and boiled the lentils then mashed them up. Looked like a big, brown, thick pile of MUD! Great, I thought, probably tastes like mud too. I fearfully proceeded with the recipe (I was a veg newbie). After adding all the seasonings and veggies to the pile of mud, I topped it with mashed potatoes and threw it in the oven. (praying for a miracle). Dinner was served and I sat at the table quietly watching my husband and 8 yr old take a bite. I told my family it was called Veggie Pie, so they wouldn’t expect anything. Waiting….I hear,” This is good Mom,” and “What did you do? This is really delicious,” from my husband. I couldn’t believe it! It was a great, healthy version of Shepherd's Pie. Even though this recipe was different, it quickly became a “Make-again” and I often experiment with different veggies! So I was one proud Mama, watching my family stuff their faces with my Nutrient power packed meal.
Fun Facts about Lentils:
-They are rated one of the word’s healthiest foods.
-They are a great source of Cholesterol lowering fiber
-Lentils have great amounts of 6 important minerals, two B-vitamins, & protein.
-Studies show Lentils help reduce the risk of Heart disease
For more information on Lentils check out: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=52
Recipe: (Adapted from chooseveg.com)
Potatoes any type—boiled and mashed with margarine, soy milk, salt & pepper & anything else you like (I uses a dollop of Toffuti cream cheese)
1 red onion-chopped
1 lg. can of sliced carrots, or slice fresh carrots
1 stalk celery chopped
1 small can of corn (optional)
Any veggies you like (1/2 cup chopped spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans)
½ cup Lentils-cooked according to package instructions and then mashed very well with a potato masher
½ tsp dried basil
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce (or experiment with a Terriyaki)
2 tbsp olive oil
Seasonings to taste (I use garlic pepper, salt, onion powder, & a pinch of cayenne)
It’s easier to prepare mashed potatoes and lentils first then set aside. Preheat the oven to 350. In a large skillet sauté onion & celery (add garlic if you desire) in 1 tbsp of oil for 3-5 minutes. Add carrots, corn, and any other veggies. Once veggies are tender add basil, soy sauce, and seasonings. Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes. (It may take longer if using fresh veggies and you can add a little water to simmer in) In a small separate skillet heat 1 tsp. of oil and lightly fry up the mashed lentils--Add a generous amount of seasonings, soy sauce, & tblsp of margarine and cook for 3-5 minutes. Next put a thin layer of lentils in a lightly oiled baking dish, then top with cooked veggies, finally top off with mashed potatoes. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until heated through.
In this photo, I didn’t have corn on hand, I made it with carrots, zuchinni & green beans