Lentils with beets, squash, carrots and celery make for an inexpensive, healthy meal any day of the week.

Story and photos by Katherine Larson

None of us is immune to the mischance that can lead to a struggle making ends meet. Indeed, times are sometimes difficult enough that it feels like the proverbial wolf at the door has actually poked a paw in. And yet we must eat.

Enter the lentil. Inexpensive and intensely nourishing, they are exceptionally high in protein and particularly good for diabetics. Lentils would seem ideal for anyone trying to decide whether to try to cook the wolf that’s sniffing at the door. And yet…

And yet lentils, especially uncooked lentils, can be most unenticing. I have heard people describe them as having no qualities other than cheapness to recommend them. Lentils evoke solid worth, respectability, reliability and—let’s be candid—a somewhat dreary economy. When other aspects of life appear bleak, the last food we want is something that just lies on the plate and says limply, “Hey, I’m good for you.”

It’s actually true; lentils are very good for us. But to make them tasty good, good as a source of gustatory pleasure, it’s often necessary to add flavor.

There are two basic ways to do this: in the way you cook them, and in what you add after they are cooked.

Basic lentil cookery is almost ridiculously easy: put lentils in a pot with three times as much water as lentils. If you have one cup of lentils, for example, add three cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let them cook for about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender. If the lentils are old, they may need a bit longer, say 40 minutes…

To read the full story, please pick up a copy of this months Marquette Monthly at one of our distribution outlets.

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