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Until my mid-20’s, I had no idea what a lentil was.
Growing up, my legume repertoire had been limited to kidney beans, Lima beans and butter beans.
When I ventured off to college, though, it opened up a whole new world of food. For one thing, I was a nutrition major, which meant that I spent the majority of my time studying food. I learned about various food cultures across the globe–many of which seemed exotic compared to my Midwest frame of reference. How did fish sauce become such a staple in so many cultures? And why do we eat so much corn and wheat in the U.S.? But even when I wasn’t studying, I was hanging out with friends, which almost always included sharing a meal. This offered a great opportunity to try new things.
Since then, lentils have become one of my favorite ingredients. They cook relatively quickly compared to their other legume counterparts, offer a source of plant-based protein, and provide a wealth of other important nutrients like fiber, magnesium and iron.
The Red Lentil Thai Chili recipe from the cookbook Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week (Amazon Associate Link) is one of my favorites. It’s amazingly simple (not to mention quite tasty). And while I don’t consider myself a “vegan” per se, I do eat vegan meals quite frequently.
There are so many different foods for us to experiment with, and that’s a good thing. Most people have at least a handful of foods they don’t like. And while there are those who will say they don’t necessarily dislike anything, they almost always still have preferences, and it’s those preferences that make up our unique eating style.
If you happen to be a fellow lover-of-lentils, what’s your favorite lentil recipe?