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Green Lentils with Green Herbs and Yogurt Sauce

May 16, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Vegetables | Post comment

Green Lentils with Green Herbs and Yogurt Sauce

We tend to think of lentils for winter weather, but this dish is right in step with spring—tender, green and fresh. I used the least expensive brown lentils, which are actually green, lots of fresh green herbs (skip the cilantro if it’s not your herb!) and sauce them with yogurt mixed with pounded garlic and dill.  If you add (separately cooked) brown rice, the protein is complete. These lentils make a good side dish or main. I like them with little Moroccan lamb meatballs or falafel and whole-wheat pita bread.

I’ve been experimenting with soaking lentils and have concluded that it really makes for a much better, lighter dish, and one that truly cooks in a short time. Cover them well with plenty of water, go to work, and when you come home cook them for about 20 to 25 minutes. Or if you’re at home, a 3 hour soak should be ample. If the weather is hot, let them soak in the refrigerator.

The Lentils

1 ½ cups German brown lentils (or any black or green lentil that you prefer)
2 tablespoons olive oil, in all
1 onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems (omit if you don’t like cilantro)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup chopped cilantro, parsley and dill, mixed
3/4 cup yogurt sauce (see below)

1. Take a close look at the lentils and remove any chaff or foreign matter you might find. Give them a rinse then cover with water and let stand for several hours or overnight.

2. Heat 4 teaspoons of the oil in a heavy pot.  Add the onion and cilantro stems and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring frequently. Drain the lentils, add them to the onions with ¾ teaspoon salt and water to cover generously.  Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Taste one to make sure.  (If you have a lot of liquid left, consider using it to make a broth-like soup with slivered sorrel leaves, some of the lentils, or pasta – or just drinking it.)

3. Make the yogurt sauce, drain the lentils, taste for salt, season them with pepper and stir in the chopped herbs.  Serve hot, warm or cool, with the yogurt sauce and a teaspoon olive oil drizzled over the surface.

The Yogurt Sauce

1 smallish garlic clove
1 teaspoon dried dill weed or 1 tablespoon fresh dill
¾ cup yogurt (plain Greek yogurt is great)
optional: 2 tablespoons tahini

Pound in a mortar or mince the garlic with the salt and dill weed, getting it as smooth as possible. (This is really easiest and fastest if you use a small mortar and pestle.)  Stir in the yogurt and tahini if using.

Serves 4