I always struggle with getting the right consistency for cooked brown lentils. And by right, I mean getting them the way I like them – slightly firm, but tender enough to enjoy. Usually, I get them boiling, get distracted and they are mushy before I realize it.
That’s fine for soups, but I enjoy eating them as more of a stir-fry or a skillet meal.
So this time around, I watched them like a hawk.
Actually, that’s a lie.
I quickly stepped into my office (I can see the kitchen from there so no left-unattended risk), but when I heard the timer go off I thought it was the microwave and let it go for a minute or two.
Nope, it was the stove. (New appliances sound incredibly similar.) By the time, I got into the kitchen and realized it was the lentils, most of the water was gone. But fortunately, the lentils weren’t mushy yet!
Despite the mishap, I think I’ve figured out the right timing for my favorite way to prepare them.
So once I had what I consider perfectly cooked lentils, I sauteed some onions and cooked that with some thinly sliced bok choy. Since I was using an Asian green, I thought a sesame dressing might be a nice way to give it some more flavor.
I whisked together sesame oil with a little honey, rice vinegar, and chile oil. All the veggies and lentils are lightly tossed in it. Then I added my favorite – black sesame seeds.
I use the seeds to garnish just about everything – smoothie bowls, yogurt parfaits, salads. They have such a great nutty flavor and slight crunch.
The final result is one of my very favorite kinds of dishes. Simple, hearty, and full of flavor. I eat it alone for lunch, but it’s also good with a poached or fried egg on top. The dish also works great as new side for the holiday table.
Sesame Lentils with Bok Choy
Makes: 2 servings as a main course, 3 to 4 as a side
What you’ll need:
1 cup brown lentils
3 cups water
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon chile oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small head bok choy, greens and part of the whites thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
How to make it:
Add the lentils and water to a medium or large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and partially cover to maintain a simmer. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the lentils are just barely tender.
While the lentils cook, whisk together the sesame oil, salt, vinegar, honey, and chile oil. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes until the onions soften. Add the bok choy and cook just until it wilts, about 1 minute. Turn the heat to low.
Drain any liquid remaining from the lentils, if it is present. Add the lentils to the skillet. Pour in the dressing and toss to coat all ingredients. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve warm.