Lentils, a Love Story

April 22nd, 2011

photo by Meanest Indian

I consider myself to be a fairly adventurous eater, but I do draw certain lines.  I don’t do mushrooms, wouldn’t eat sushi if you paid me and, until recently, avoided lentils at all costs.  But that was because, for most of my life, my only frame of reference for lentils was brown lentils.  You know, the big, chunky ones that taste like dirt.  I continue to insist that those aren’t really food.
But several months ago, I was (re)introduced to the brown lentil’s more delicate and user-friendly cousin — the split red lentil.  I had met split lentils during my stay in India.  They’re called “dahl” over there and often appear as a nice smushy splop of yum on a plate piled high with other delicacies like butter chicken and tandoori naan.  Somehow, though, I’d manage to forget that those were lentils until I happened across a recipe for a lentil soup with Indian spices in my Family Dinner book
Eureka!  I made (and loved) the recipe and have made several other lentil-based dishes since then, always careful to stick to the amenable split red lentils.
It’s nice to discover a new food.  In recent years, my husband and daughter have each introduced me to a new culinary acquaintance that I had previously scorned.  
With Josh, it was broccoli.  Thanks to a deep-seated and aggressive prejudice against the verdant veggie held by my mother, broccoli was never a part of my childhood.  But it’s Josh’s favorite vegetable.  So, in an attempt to be a considerate wife, I dutifully cooked some early in our marriage…
Eureka!  That stuff’s fabulous.  And good for you.  And cheap (if you shop Aldi, at least).  And easy to prepare.  What’s not to love?  (I’m also proud to say that broccoli is currently my son’s favorite food.  He can’t get enough.  Miss Mouse eats it by the plateful, too.  Must be genetic.) 
Then this spring, Miss Mouse helped me get over my fear of oranges.  Yes, oranges.  I never liked them much, mostly because I hated fighting with the pith.  Miss Mouse adores clementines more than life itself, but wasn’t always able to finish hers.  In the interest of not wasting food, I started eating her remnants…
Eureka!  Tangy, juicy, healthy.  Clementines and mandarins are my new best friends, and make regular appearances in my lunch.
Is there a food you’ve been avoiding?  Give it another try this week.  It might surprise you! 

2 responses to “Lentils, a Love Story”

  1. G'Mom says:

    That would be asparagus. Cooked asparagus makes me gag. But after a very tasty dinner salad served by my sister that included the above mentioned veggie, I was adventuresome enough to order an asparagus salad at our favorite Italian restaurant. Still not my favorite veggie, and you'd better not cook it too much…..

  2. G'Mom says:

    How about black lentils? Check your email for a fantastic lentil salad – using black lentils.

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