This one-pot dish is delicious, easy to make and highly nutritious. The sweet and sour flavor of the green lentils is perfectly balanced thanks to vinegar, onion, salt and black pepper.
- 1 pound (2½ cups, 454 g) green lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1½ cups (182 g) diced, peeled, yellow onion
- ¼ cup (60 ml) vinegar (apple cider, white, or red wine)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional) (note 1)
- Fried onion topping:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup (118 g) diced, peeled, yellow onion
- Serving suggestions:
- Fried egg
- Chopped fresh parsley and/or chives
- Wash the lentils under cold running water to remove any dirt and debris. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add water to come up 2 inches (5 cm) above the lentils. Soak for a minimum 1 hour and maximum 8 hours/overnight (note 2).
- Transfer the lentils with the soaking water to a large heavy-bottomed pot or a Dutch oven. Add the bay leaves and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered until the lentils are almost soft, about 15–18 minutes—you don’t want them to fall apart and get mushy.
- Discard the bay leaves. Place a sieve over a large bowl and drain the lentils, preserving all the cooking liquid (you’ll have about 1¾ cup/415 ml of liquid). Set both aside.
- Wash the heavy-bottomed pot and heat the vegetable oil in it over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 6–8 minutes.
- Add the lentils and stir in the vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Add the sugar, if using. Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 more minutes. Turn the heat off.
- To make the lentils creamier, remove 1 cup and blend them in a blender until smooth, then return back to the pot, and stir in. (You can also use a food processor, potato masher, or immersion blender).
- Taste the lentils and adjust to your taste – add more salt, vinegar, black pepper and/or sugar.
- Make the fried onion. Place both the oil and the onion in a small skillet at the same time, and stir. (Starting with the onion in the oil makes both cook gradually, and prevents the onion from burning).
- Heat slowly over medium-low heat. Cook and stir occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
- Serve the green lentils with the fried onion topping, fried onion and pickles. Store the lentils and the fried onion topping separately in the fridge for up to 3 days (note 3).
- Sugar – It’s part of my grandma’s original recipe, but I find it’s not necessary, because the onion sweetens it enough.
- Soaking the lentils – the longer you soak the lentils, the faster they cook, but might also fall apart faster & get mushy. My mom doesn’t soak them at all, but the cooking time is longer. Find a compromise depending on how much time you want to spend cooking.
- I like to reserve 2 cups of the cooked lentils and make a lentil soup: add 5–6 cups vegetable stock or water, 2 cups of chopped vegetables you have on hand (carrot, parsnip, potato, zucchini, peas, chopped greens such as kale), 1–2 tablespoons fresh herbs, or even 1/2 cup of leftover cooked rice, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.