I think I’ve always enjoyed lentils, but ever quite known how to cook them. They’re a great source of protein, fiber, and general nutrients, and at $1.99 for a 2 pound bag (which is like… 16 servings?), you can’t go wrong. I recently discovered the delights of barley–the mild nuttiness of the barley compliments the creaminess of the lentils quite nicely, if you ask me.
This takes about an hour (?) to cook, and it will make your house smell delightful. You can use rice instead of barley (or you can use any grain that takes about 30-60 minutes to cook when being simmered), and you can use a different color lentils if you want (but pink lentils cook in about 20 minutes and turn to mush, so I would steer away from mixing those with a grain when cooking them).
As with anything I cook, this “recipe” is extremely adaptable–mold it to fit your tastes, please.
Here’s what you “need” (I cooked a double batch here, but these are the amounts for 1 very big and satisfying serving):
- 1/2 cup of lentils (rinsed and picked through for debris, but I have never found debris, so I stopped looking for it… I’m a risk taker)
- 1/4 cup of barley (or other grain–brown rice is nice with this, but barley is better)
- onion — let’s say 1/2 a cup? I just add however much I end up chopping up.
- garlic, quantity adjusted to your tastes
- ginger–however much you would like. of course.
- spices (i used turmeric, chipotle, cumin, a bay leaf, salt, and pepper here. I’ll also sometimes use garam masala, a curry spice mix, or really whatever else i find in spice cupboard. It would work with sage/rosemary/thyme type flavors. or like. anything.)
- 2 1/4 cups of water – both lentils & barley have a 1:3 food to water ratio, so this is 3*(0.5 cups lentils)+3*(0.25 cups barley)= 2.25 cups water. make sense?
Before you start chopping, put your water on the stove (in a pot, if you please), and start the water boiling process. If you’re using a bay leaf, please add it now.
Meanwhile, chop up your onion, garlic, and ginger and measure out your lentils & barley.
You can add the onion, garlic, ginger to the water whenever you’re done chopping it.
Then, once the water/onion, etc is boiling, add in your barley and lentils.
Bring it back to a boil…
…and then cover it, and turn the heat down low, letting this mixture simmer for, oh, about 45 minutes. Maybe 60 minutes. I don’t really know. A while.
I generally don’t add the spices until the barley and lentils are at least 90% cooked. Just taste the little nobules to figure out the percentage of cooked-ness — you’ll know. Here, I just wildly threw cumin, turmeric, chipotle, salt, and pepper on there. You can always add more spices if you want. And if you overdo it on the spices, mix in a little bit of plain yogurt (I like greek yogurt the best) at the end to cut some of the spiciness. Then cover the pot again, and keep it slowly bubbling away for a bit longer.
Another confession? I don’t know what turmeric actually tastes like — I just add it to stuff because it turns it orange and saying that I cook with turmeric makes me feel fancy.
Basically, at this point, it can be declared Cooked whenever you want. I usually leave it bubbling & uncovered for a little bit (read: 5-10 mins?) to cook off some of the liquid.
Then, if you’re interested in adding an egg (and I don’t see why you wouldn’t be), cook one. I like poached eggs so so much, but they’re not exactly the easiest things to cook, so I’ve been using fried eggs recently instead.
Bam, toss the egg on top and enjoy.
I’ve never tried freezing this, mostly because whenever I cook it I want to eat it immediately, but I’m sure that it would freeze well. But don’t try to freeze the egg, okay?
1 pound of barley = $2.19 = ~2 cups = 8 quarter-cup servings = $0.27
2 pounds lentils = $1.99 = 16 quarter-cup servings = $0.25 for half a cup
onion/garlic/ginger/spices? = ~$0.?? — let’s call it 50 cents, just to be generous. Very generous.
dozen eggs = $1.89 = $0.16 an egg
So this is all ~$1.18. Gorgeous.