Red Lentils with Cilantro and Shredded Chicken, Or . . .

The “or” in the name of this recipe indicates the many dishes you can make with red lentils; two variations of the recipe are presented below. Red lentils are great because they’re split and cook quickly, usually in less than an hour. The base of each recipe described below is a 16-oz. bag of red lentils (2 bags if you want to make more), chopped onions, and crushed garlic–1 or 2 onions and four or more garlic cloves, depending on your preference. If you want to make more, you can use two 16-oz. bags of red lentils.

Wash the red lentils. Put them in a stock pot. Pour water or any kind of broth—chicken, beef, or vegetable, over the lentils. You can start with 32 ozs. of broth and add more liquid (water or broth), as you cook because the lentils absorb the liquid. You can make the dish more or less soupy, depending on your preference and if you want it to be more like stew rather than soup. Cook over medium heat.

Stir constantly as you cook. When the lentils start to plump or soften, begin adding your ingredients in the order that you would want certain ones to cook longer. For example, if you were to add raw chopped meat, you will want to add that ingredient way before the lentils are done. You can also sauté the chopped raw meat separately with the garlic and onions that you will add to the lentils, depending on the flavor you’re seeking. Throughout the cooking process, always cook over medium heat or less, if it starts boiling too much.

With Cilantro and Shredded Chicken
When the lentils have been cooking over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, you can add the chopped onion or use green onions and crushed garlic, six peeled and chopped carrots or four small-medium peeled and chopped sweet potatoes. If you use green onions, add them when you add the cilantro. After about 10 minutes (if cooking with carrots; 15-20 minutes with sweet potatoes), add a bunch of washed, fresh cilantro. Constantly check your liquid level. For this recipe, I like to add a 32-oz. carton of unsweetened coconut beverage (I use the Trader Joe’s brand). Shake the beverage in the carton first before pouring. You may continue to add more liquid later after you add the other ingredients, depending on how soupy you want it to be. After the carrots or sweet potatoes are somewhat tender, add a bunch of fresh chopped kale (I use Trader Joe’s bagged Tuscan kale) or green Swiss chard. Stir and add leftover shredded chicken or chopped chicken you had sautéed separately, or you can add a bag of Trader Joe’s Cilantro Chicken Wonton. Turn off heat after all ingredients have been heated through. Serve with warm garlic naan bread.

With Kale and Maple-flavored Breakfast Link Sausage
When the lentils have been cooking over medium heat for about 20 minutes, you can add the chopped onion and crushed garlic, four peeled and chopped white potatoes. After about 15-20 minutes (or when the potatoes are somewhat tender), add four links of sliced semi-frozen cooked maple-flavored breakfast link sausages (you can thaw the sausages in the refrigerator during the time you start cooking the lentils). For this recipe, I used vegetable broth and water. When the potatoes are tender, add a bunch of fresh chopped kale. Turn off heat based on how tender you want your kale, although kale is best when not overcooked. Serve over quinoa or brown rice mixed with wild rice.

As you can see from these two variations, you can pretty much replace the meat and vegetables with any of your favorites. Happy tasting.

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