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Basic Lentils with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

2009 June 24
by admin


I think that eating lentils is kind of like joining the gym.

You want to join the gym, you really, really do.  You want to get in shape.  Wear nice clothes.  Feel vivacious again.  But you are scared.  Because the people at the gym are all in shape already.  And they’ll look at you and know that you are not in shape.

And you won’t know how to work the machines or how much weight to lift so you’ll bumble around.  And the mean girls with the short shorts will stand in the corner and giggle and point at you.

And so you buy the right workout clothes.  And you lay them out on your bed and you pump yourself up for a trip to the gym.  And you get there.  And you realize no one really cares about you and your workouts.  Everyone else is too busy getting their work-out on to notice that you are using the leg-press machine all backwards and you’re fumbling around with the big BOSU ball.  You just start slow.  Mind your own business.  Run when you can and walk when you can’t.  Take baby steps if you need to.

And magically, you start to get in shape.  Your clothes fit better.  Men are whistling at you as you cross the street.  Life is good.

Yep.  I think eating lentils is like that.  You see all these wonderful recipes for lentils.  You have aspirations of even conquering a lentil loaf:

or maybe lentil cakes:

But for goodness sake, you *just* found the proper aisle at the grocery store for them and you don’t know if you even LIKE them, let alone are capable of turning them into loaves that look like meat!

So you need to ease into it like you ease into a new gym routine.  Start slowly.  Get all your ingredients together.  Mentally prepare yourself.  Realize that no one cares what they look like (except maybe your resident Omnivore and perhaps Omnivore-offspring –if you have those–).  Just start with a basic recipe.  Baby steps.

Basic Lentils
3/4 cup lentils
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, whole
1 T balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Bring all ingredients to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and enjoy.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (adapted from here and here)
1/2 cucumber, peeled and finely shredded
3/4 cup plain yogurt, strained in cheese cloth
1 T lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, smashed
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Peel and finely dice the cucumber. Place the pieces in a colander and allow the liquid to drain while you mix the other ingredients in a bowl.

Before adding the cucumber, blot it lightly with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Add it to the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour to allow the flavors to blend.

  • Woman With a Whisk

    You make me laugh. But this sounds so good. Maybe with some warm pita? Definitely something I could take for lunch!

  • Ellie

    I am a bit scared of cooking lentils, but I think I could do this! It looks tasty!

  • Joelen

    Too funny and yet so true! You’ve not only shared a great recipe but motivated me to hit the gym tonight. :)

  • elly

    LOL, great post. I loooooooooove me some lentils and I would definitely like it with the cucumber yogurt sauce. Mmm cumin and coriander..

  • Cate

    And after you realize you like lentils, you discover that there are a whole bunch of different colors of them in the bulk bins, and you go crazy trying to figure out how to use all the beautiful varieties!

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  • lentils for dinner

    came here for the yogurt sauce recipe. suprised no one has commented on your super-witty lentil/gym analogy. i love it. and lentils. but not the gym. thanks!