Friday recipe: spicy lentils and tomatoes

I can’t say that I love to cook (although I’ll bake brownies any day of the week), but I do love healthy recipes that are full of flavor. This spicy lentil and tomato combo is my go-to recipe when I want to stock my fridge with a reheatable side dish or easy work-week lunch. In addition to the tasty way lentils readily absorb flavors, they are high in protein and fiber, packed with folate and potassium and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat.

Another advantage of this recipe is its flexibility. I don’t like onions so I omit that. I love spicy foods, so I typically bump up the “heat” by adding more cayenne. Experiment with the spices to get the flavor you savor, and enjoy!

1 cup red lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
3 cup water
1 large tomato, cut into 8 wedges, or 8 oz. can diced tomatoes

Lentils are nutritionally power-packed.

3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium yellow or red onion, finely chopped
5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup minced cilantro or parsley (optional)


Place lentils, fresh tomato (if using) and water in a cooking pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes (at 20 minutes, begin checking that there is still water in the pot; add small amounts of water as needed).

While lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add the cumin and stir briefly. Add the garlic and onion and saute over medium heat until most of the onion has turned dark brown, 5-10 minutes (or, if you’re omitting the onion, 2-3 minutes). Add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne and stir.

Add the onion/spice mixture to the lentils when they’re done cooking. If you’re using canned tomatoes, add them to the pot along with the cilantro or parsley and simmer for another five minutes. Serve hot.

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