Red lentils! I have never had them before, until very recently. Have you? Though lentils are a staple in many parts of the world, I didn’t grow up eating them. As an adult, I’ve had lentil stews a couple of times such as the canned soup variety or a lentil dish at an Indian restaurant. The taste and texture of lentils reminds me a lot of a mung beans, something I did grow up eating. We often ate mung beans in a savory Filipino stew called Mongo (Mongo Guisado or Ginisang Mongo) or in Hopia Mongo, a flaky pastry filled with sweet mung bean filling. Mongo is a comfort food that even kids with picky palates love. My dog Swift, a 17 year old Labrador mix, has loved Mongo stew with rice since she was a puppy! When she got sick and didn’t want to eat dog food, she would eat Mongo!
While shopping at Trader Joe’s, I saw a brightly orange and green colored package of Red Split Lentils. Somehow the bag of orange-red beans was calling me out and telling me that I needed to get it. I guess I have a penchant for buying colorful foods.
Using the red lentils, I decided to make a dish that reminded me of the Mongo stew that I grew up with and still love, but with an Italian and American twist. Remix time!
In addition to mung beans, the main ingredients for Filipino Mongo are diced pork, shrimp, tomato, spinach, and chicharon (fried pork rinds). Here’s a great recipe for traditional Mongo from pinoyrecipe.net: http://www.pinoyrecipe.net/filipino-mongo-guisado-recipe-stewed-mung-beans/#axzz2AKlFn5Qg and a great recipe with picture tutorial by Kusina ni Manang: http://kusinanimanang.blogspot.com/2004/12/munggo-guisado_13.html
For my remixed Mongo, I used the red lentils instead of mung beans as well as mushrooms, tomatoes, Italian seasonings, kale, a poached egg, and bacon. After all the chopping, it is a pretty quick dish, though it is best to soak the lentils in water for at least 30 minutes. I heard somewhere that soaking helps prevent the flatulence associated with lentils. Is this true?
- dash of vegetable oil, or your favorite cooking oil
- 1/2-3/4 cup chopped onion
- 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
- 2 chopped roma tomatoes
- 2 cups chopped mushrooms, crimini or button
- 2 1/4 cups of beef, chicken or vegetable stock (I used beef stock)
- 1/2-1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2-1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb mix (optional)
- 1 cup red split lentils
- dash of Red wine (optional)
- dash tomato paste
- ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups chopped kale
- Bacon, chopped up and cooked (optional! save the rendered bacon fat if you want to add it later) I’m sure fake bacon would be great here too!
- Poached egg (optional)
- Parsley (optional)
- Heat oil in a pan, add onions and garlic. Cook until tender.
- Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until softened.
- Add mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until starting to turn tender.
- Add soaked and drained lentils, stock, tomato paste and dried herbs. Give it a good stir and let come up to a boil. Add a dash of red wine. Continue to stir every now and then.
- Cover with a lid and simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until lentils are soft. You can add more liquid if you want it more like a soup.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice, then add the chopped kale and simmer until it is just wilted. Once kale is done, take it off the heat so that the kale doesn’t over cook.
- If you want an extra layer of flavor, add a tablespoon or so of rendered bacon fat to the pot. It’s like drizzling olive oil to finish a dish, but instead with the bacon fat.
- Put a poached egg on top, then garnish with chopped bacon and parsley. This dish still tastes awesome as a vegetarian dish too! Serve with good bread like Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead Bread.
I like to chop kale up in a chiffonade (long thin strips). Add it last so it doesn’t get mushy.
This dish really reminded me of Mongo, one of my favorite childhood dishes. It was fun remixing a dish to make it similar and yet so different at the same time. Next time, I can’t wait to have my dog Swift, a mung bean aficionado, try this dish, adapted of course for doggies.
What’s your favorite way to eat lentils?
- Beluga Stew with Mashed Parsnips and Caraway Toast (managedmacros.com)
- Makhlouta, a comforting rice and lentil soup from Lebanon (nami-nami.blogspot.com)
- Black Lentil Vegetable Soup (hummusapien.com)
- Real Kitcheri that’s not Kitsch (drufoodandhealth.wordpress.com)
- Asian Red Lentils and Kale Stew (ourlittlefamilyadventure.wordpress.com)