Lentils may make the best hearty soup for a winter’s day, but it’s also pretty easy to give lentils a summer makeover that’s refreshing and flavorful, perfect for a warm August evening. To me, fennel brings out a vibrant taste in the lentils, and a lemon spritz and fresh basil give them another zing of flavor. In this dish, I added some yellow bell peppers, carrots, and a shallot, but you could also use zucchini, summer squash, red bell peppers, or other summer vegetables of choice. And besides all the yummy, nutritious veggies you might add to this dish, remember that lentils themselves are one of the best antioxidant foods, are high in fiber, could reduce your risk of heart disease, and have the potential to battle high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and diseases of the digestive track (source: Eating on the Wild Side).
Summer Lentils with Fennel, Lemon & Basil
In a medium pot, bring one cup dried lentils and 3 cups chicken stock to a boil; cover and simmer on low heat until the lentils become tender, about 25 minutes (check liquid level and add more water or stock if low). Meanwhile, chop fennel (reserve any fennel fronds for adding near the end) and begin cooking with olive oil in a saute pan; chop shallot and carrot and add after 5 minutes. When fennel and shallot are soft and translucent, add other vegetables of choice (I added bell peppers). Chop fresh basil and quarter a lemon; set aside. When lentils are ready in the pot, do not drain – add lentils and any liquid directly to saute pan with the cooked veggies. Add a little more stock if needed to keep the lentils moist, stir and simmer for a couple minutes. When ready, taste and season with salt & pepper, spritz with lemon, and add chopped basil and fennel fronds.
August 21, 2013 at 11:31 am
Do you use an entire fennel bulb? And how much does this dish yield, roughly? I’m going to try it tomorrow!
August 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm
Hi Sarah – I used about half the bulb– just the white and light green parts, plus fronds, after cutting out and discarding the core at the bottom center. Hope you like it 🙂
August 21, 2013 at 6:15 pm
Oh, and it’s enough for about 6 people as a side dish; it would be enough for 3 or 4 if this is the main dish. Thanks for stopping by, Sarah!
August 22, 2013 at 6:16 pm
Another delicious dish. I think we let the lentils cook too long, though, because the dish was aesthetically unpleasing (i.e. quite grey and mushy) when we were ready to eat. It tastest really good, however. We doubled the recipe and have plenty to put in the freezer for future evenings when I’m scrambling to pull together dinner…
August 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm
I should have added that Hendrik cooked the lentils in a pressure cooker to hasten the completion of the dish – I think this may have been the problem. For anyone considering such a modification: don’t do it! (It still tasted good, though…)
August 22, 2013 at 7:08 pm
Ha! Thanks for letting me know. I have zero experience using a pressure cooker because I’m afraid it would explode on me, so I can’t say if that was the problem. I’ve noticed that different lentils have varying textures — I try to use green French lentils when I can get them, since they tend to keep their shape and don’t get mushy. Plus they’re not brown, which helps aesthetically.
August 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm
Haha! I am ALSO terrified of the pressure cooker. I do not use it – Hendrik does. He’s tried to explain it to me but I’m just not going there. Slow but easy is my motto. BTW, we used green lentils (though I have to say they looked brown before we cooked them, which leads me to wonder how they get their name). Not sure where they’re from, though. I’m still putting it all down to the pressure cooker.