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.