If you’re looking for an inexpensive, healthy, and quick weeknight dinner, lentils fit the bill. This recipe combines green lentils with onion, carrots, celery, herbs, and a little pancetta for a filling and wholesome dinner. You can serve them as they are, or with yogurt or creamy cheese for a pleasantly cool contrast. The thickness of the final dish depends on how much liquid you add––you could add just enough water for a close consistency, or enough to turn it into a soup.
Recipe: Stewed Lentils
Serves 4 as a side dish or 2/3 as a main
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 small onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
100 g pancetta, finely diced
250 g lentils
1 tsp dried oregano
2 pieces orange rind
2 cups water plus more as needed
Dice the onion, carrots, celery, and pancetta (if using) into small, even pieces. Heat a pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the pancetta and stir until the pancetta is brown and has rendered some of its fat, then add the onions, carrots, and celery, season with salt, and cook for a few minutes more until soft (but not mushy).
Next, add the lentils to the pot and stir to coat with the olive oil. Season with more salt, then add the oregano, 2 pieces of orange rind, and the first 2 cups of water (the lentils should be covered by about an inch). Season with salt again.
Cover the pan, then simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes, adding more water as necessary. The lentils are finished when they are tender; cook them a little longer if you like them very soft. Remove the orange rinds, taste for seasoning, add pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, and serve.
Julia Terranova is a Brooklyn born, Italian-American student with a love of Rome and all things Italy. She spends her time cooking for friends and reading as many cookbooks as she can find.