Dear Mr. Rawles,
I’m a fan of lentils from way back. Some things I didn’t see in the article and the follow-up letters are:
1. Lentils can indeed produce intestinal gas like beans or most other legumes. However this can be significantly reduced by introducing a single peeled whole carrot into the lentil dish when cooking. Remove the carrot before serving the lentils. No, I do not know why it works. I just know that it does.
2. Brown/Green lentils have the same cooking time and temp as brown rice.
3. Red lentils have the same cooking time and temp as white rice.
These comparable cooking times make it easy to bash together a casserole with the right ingredients in one pot and one cooking operation. Couldn’t be easier.
Here is my favorite lentil dish, published by The Tightwad Gazette. I’ve been cooking it for donkey’s years. It is filling and well-balanced. Remarkably inexpensive, too. BTW, all of The Tightwad Gazette book editions are highly recommended.
3 cups chicken broth or use water and 1 tablespoon vegetable
3/4 cup lentils, uncooked
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
3/4 cup chopped fresh onion
1/2 teaspoon sweet basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Blend all together in a casserole dish. Bake, covered for 90 minutes at 300 degrees F. During the last 20 minutes, you may top with 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, if desired.
This dish is an all-around excellent. Easy to fix (but not quick, alas), inexpensive, low fat, nutritious, and tasty.
John’s Comments: I use this recipe as a starting point for lentil cooking. I often add a chicken breast cut up in it, and/or carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, etc or whatever is in season in the garden when you’re cooking.
I change the seasoning to my taste, of course. I use a lot more garlic (not powdered) and sometimes cloves, mint, or bay leaf. And I tend to use more basil, but then I like basil and garlic.
Chicken tends to lose its flavor and character when mixed in with this dish. Probably better to serve chicken pieces on the side. Ham cubes or pork sausage might be better to mix in if you want real meat in it. Although the point of this [complete protein] casserole is that meat really isn’t needful.