Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cheesy Baked Lentils

This is only the second lentil recipe I've posted on my blog in almost 8 years!  Lentils are just kind of hard to love.  They're dull with a sort of mealy texture.  I don't hate them, but my response to a recipe featuring them is not usually, "Lentils?  Ooh, baby, I'm there!"  Don't get me wrong, I've tried many lentil recipes over the years (and have given up on ever finding a lentil soup more than just passable), and this is a gem among, uh... less appealing rocks.
I know it may not look super fantastic from the ingredient list, and I have no explanation for why exactly it is so good, but really, it is.  I also have no explanation for why the cumin goes so well in it, but I stirred it in after baking the first time I ever made it (pre-cheese) and it added exactly the flavor boost that was needed.  Since that first time (it was one of the first meals I made for my now husband, then boyfriend in his college apartment kitchen back in 2006), I've made this several times and it's so incredibly easy, delicious, and healthy.  We like it best served over quinoa.  It also freezes well, just leave the cheese off whichever portion you want to freeze. 
If you're super pressed for time, you could chop up some baby carrots, use maybe 1/2 tsp each garlic and onion powder instead of the real ones, and an undrained 16 oz can of diced tomatoes instead of fresh ones.  You can also add an additional 8 oz can tomato sauce if you'd like, as written this recipe doesn't have much sauce, but my husband likes it that way so I leave it alone.  It has plenty of flavor regardless!
Oh, and this recipe originally comes from the More with Less cookbook.  It has been pretty heavily edited by me, though.
Cheesy Baked Lentils
1 can V8 or tomato juice, or alternatively one 8 oz can plain tomato sauce and 1/2 C water
2 1/4 C water
1 lb lentils, rinsed and looked over for stones and other weirdies
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 C chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp sage
2 1/2 C grated cheddar
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 by 13 baking dish.  Add all ingredients to baking dish except cheese, and mix together.  Cover tightly with foil.  Carefully place it in the oven so it doesn't slosh.  Bake 50 minutes, remove foil, stir, and bake another half hour, or until lentils are cooked through and completely tender.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake until cheese is melted.
Serve over quinoa or rice if desired, or just have by itself with salad, fruit, or veggies on the side.
Yield: 8-10 main dish servings

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