I was thinking fish with lemon, maybe a little olive oil, and I needed a side dish. Lentils with peppers sounded perfect.
Oddly, perhaps, we don’t see lentils nearly as much in the U.S. as we do in other parts of the world. And this despite Canada being one of the largest growers of them.
I’m keeping the ingredients as simple as I can: a cup of dried lentils, a striped Holland pepper, some garlic (they’re small so I grabbed two cloves), and a bay leaf.
What you don’t see in the photo is a bit of salt, several cups of water, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to finish.
Just FYI: a cup of dried lentils is (or should be) darn close to 8 ounces. If you’re not buying from the bulk bins, it’s typically half of a bag.
Dried lentils, much like dried beans, are one of the best rent week ingredients out there. Try to get them as fresh as you can — which usually means getting them from a store where people buy them frequently enough to generate some turnover. Check the dates.
For this I’m using regular brown typical grocery store lentils. You could use red, yellow, or even French green if you want but the texture and cooking time vary a bit so read the labels.
I also used a striped Holland pepper (a grafted red and yellow bell pepper) but any peppers would work. We like the color of these (which is why they were developed in the first place, after all).
First up: pick through your lentils to look for any debris, rocks (yes, I said rocks), and shriveled lentils. It’s a standard disclaimer on every package and recipe (or should be) because debris happens. Give them a good rinse as well.
For cooking normal brown or green lentils you usually use 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of lentils.
Start with cold water covering the lentils in a pan with any seasoning except the salt. While you would normally taste and salt as you go, you’ve heard me say it over and over, this is one of those times where you don’t. Salt tends to break down the lentils and speed them towards mushy faster than we’d like.
Bottom line: taste and salt when you’re done.
Anywho, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let them cook uncovered about 20 minutes or until they’re as soft as you like them best. Me, I prefer a slight al dente similar to my pasta — soft without being mushy with a little firmness still.
If the water runs low, turn your heat down a bit and add enough water to cover them again.
Once done, discard the bay leaf and drain the lentils if there’s any water left.
Taste and season.
Toss with the sliced peppers.
A generous drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil, a little chopped parsley or mint if you have it.
Lentils with Peppers
A simple lentils with strips of Holland pepper. On the table in half an hour and a perfect side dish. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 1 cup dried lentils, cleaned and rinsed 8 oz.
- 3 cups cold water
- 1 bell pepper, sliced thin
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste for me, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, but you do you
- good olive oil for drizzling
- chopped parsley or mint for garnish (optional)
Carefully pick through the lentils and remove any debris. Rinse the lentils.
Cover the lentils with 3 cups of cold water in a pan with the garlic and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes or until desired tenderness.
Taste, adjust salt and pepper to taste. Toss with sliced peppers. Drizzle generously with good olive oil. Garnish with chopped parsley or mint if desired.
Sealed up this will keep in the refrigerator for a week. You can warm it up again on the stove with a bit of water added.