For the record, the United Nations copied me. The 68th UN General Assembly officially declared 2016 The Year of Pulses. It was my idea first– I wanted to make 2016 the year of beans (by which I mean the same thing they mean when they say pulses). I must say, though, my name for it was more relatable– Beans in ’16– even if it does sound more like a cheerleader’s chant than a food slogan.
It’s hard to believe we don’t all eat more beans– meaning lentils, chickpeas, and white, black and red beans. For one thing, they are a key ingredient to a really satisfying meatless meal. They’re inexpensive, incredibly nutritious (high in protein, minerals and fiber); and, culinarily speaking, quite versatile. They can be made into a creamy soup, puree or dip; “crunchified” when tossed with spices and roasted; turned into veggie burgers and meatless “meatballs”; eaten in their natural shape with rice, in a chunky soup or stew, and so on. Oh– they’re good for the world, too, which is why the UN got involved. Pulses play an important role in sustainable food production, can fight malnutrition; and offer great nutrition for populations across all socio-economic strata. Oh dear, I sound like a pulse sales person.
What will really sell you on eating more beans is how good they taste.
Here’s a really flavorful dish that can be on the table in about half an hour. Make it on a busy weeknight or serve it for brunch: you can even make the lentils ahead of time, and simply add the eggs and bake them 15 minutes before serving.
Curried Lentils and Eggs
1 cup dried red lentils
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 carrots, cut in ¼-inch dice
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 pound tomatoes, diced
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat the inside of 4 muffin tins or ramekins with cooking spray.
- Combine the lentils with 3 cups water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes; drain and set aside.
- While the lentils cook, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the onion, garlic, curry and cumin and cook, stirring often, until the onions just begin to soften, 2 minutes. Stir in the carrots, celery, tomato and ½ teaspoon of the salt, cayenne (as desired) and simmer, stirring occasionally until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. (if the pan gets dry, add 1 tablespoon of water).
- Combine the vegetables with the lentils and spoon into the ramekins. Use the back of a spoon to hollow out a well in the center of each. Crack an egg into the well; place the ramekins on a baking sheet, sprinkle with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and bake until the whites are set, about 13-15 minutes.
Makes 4 servings
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 332 calories, 22 g protein, 42 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 566 mg sodium