That is exactly how I would describe this gorgeous day and this delicious dish I am about to share. I love it when the winter earth goes from chilled (or where some of you are...frozen solid!) to just beginning to warm up. The smell of that first-of-spring earth is fantastic.
Lentils are a food made for spring. They have a wonderful earthy flavor and come in all kinds of colors. For the today's recipe, I used green ones. Rich in lots of vitamins and minerals including molybdenum which helps metabolize fats and carbs and packed with protein and fiber, lentils can also awaken your winter body to a lighter, brighter state of well-being. This is a perfect dish to serve up as our clocks and bodies spring forward. (And, if any of the "guys" I met yesterday are reading this, oh, your whole spring meal was fabulous...I would love those recipes!)
Spring Lentils with Minty Carrots from The New York Times
This is an adaptation of a Turkish recipe, a sweet and savory combination of lentils, onions and carrots that can be served hot or at room temperature, as a main dish or a side.
1 cup brown, green or black lentils, rinsed (not red lentils...they are too soft)
3 cups water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, halved lengthwise, then sliced thin across the grain
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 garlic cloves, minced (essential...don't omit)
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced thin (about 4 cups sliced)
1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (essential...don't omit)
Combine the lentils with 3 cups water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Set a strainer over a bowl, and drain.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy casserole or skillet. Add the onion and coriander seeds. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and carrots and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, for two to three minutes until the carrots begin to soften. Stir in the dissolved tomato paste, sugar and lentils. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water from the lentils (enough to cover the lentils), salt to taste and half the mint. Bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are tender and much of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and adjust salt. Remove from the heat, sprinkle on the remaining mint and serve, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature with cooked whole grains, like bulgur or quinoa. Serves four to six.
This will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator. The dish is delicious served at room temperature. Here is how I first served mine... with a lovely, plump artichoke, sauteed spinach and polenta. Yum!