Cozy Red Lentil Mash

Recipe courtesy of Mollie Katzen/Harvard University Dining Services

Serves 4 as main dish, or 6 as a sidered lentils (red-lentil2.jpg)

Even though this is a called a “mash,” you don’t have to do any actual mashing. One of the beautiful things about red lentils (which are actually orange, but cook up to be yellow, so the name is confusing) is that they inadvertently mash themselves. Very thoughtful of them to pitch in.

Simmer the lentils well ahead of time. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes. While they are simmering, start cooking the onions. The onions need to be very well done in order for this dish to achieve its highest potential.

You have the option of “spiking” the olive oil with butter, which will give the dish a richer, more complex flavor. This is also perfectly fine without the butter—something vegans will be glad to know.

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (use the lesser amount if adding butter)
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter (optional)
  • 3 cups minced sweet onion
  • 2 cups uncooked red lentils
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne (if desired)

Place a large, wide skillet over medium heat and wait 1 minute. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the butter, if using, and let it melt into the olive oil. Then add the onions, shaking the pan to make sure they are distributed over the heated oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and adding ½ teaspoon salt any time after the first 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, combine the lentils and water in an uncovered pot or kettle. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and let it cook undisturbed over the lowest possible heat until all the lentils are soft (approximately 10 to 30 minutes). To insure against burning the bottom, you can insert a heat absorber underneath.

After the onions have cooked for about 30 minutes, douse them with 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, mixing it in as you go. When the onions are very soft, and very sweet (about a few minutes later), add the lentils, stirring them in to combine well. Remove from the heat, and taste to adjust salt (it will need more) and vinegar (I usually end up adding another tablespoon or so).

Season with black pepper and cayenne, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. This stores well in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator, and reheats beautifully in the microwave.

Try these other vegetarian recipes from Mollie Katzen and Harvard University Dining Services:

Nutritional information per serving (based on 4 servings):

Calories: 450 ⁄ Protein: 27 g ⁄ Carbohydrate: 66 g ⁄ Fiber: 15 g ⁄
Sodium: 610 mg Saturated fat: 2 g ⁄ Polyunsaturated fat: 0 g
Monounsaturated fat: 4 g Trans fat: 0 g ⁄ Cholesterol: 5 mg

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