Red Lentil Dish with Pita Chips Recipe

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Last week, my parents dropped by for a short visit.  But as often happens, we ended up having a wonderful spontaneous dinner party.  (No, that’s not us over in the picture – I didn’t have the forethought or the candles for a nice image like this.) This usually involves me pulling all sorts of things out of the fridge and feeding my parents some weird spur-of-the-moment concoction I’d just then thought up.  I don’t mean to experiment on the relatives – it just sort of happens.  What was going to be just a thrown together dinner for me, my husband, and our son, turned out to be a fun ethnic food experimentation!  I thought I’d share those recipes with you here.  I didn’t serve the lentils on rice, but a nice basmati or jasmine rice would work well here.  One nice thing about red lentils – they cook up pretty fast!  I’ve heard 10 – 15 minutes, but for some reason it usually seems to take me more like 20 – 30 minutes to get them how I like.

Red Lentil Dish:

2 cups dried red lentils, cooked until almost soft, then drained

8 – 10 cloves garlic

about 1/2 cup olive oil

1 red or yellow pepper

1 green pepper

2 small zucchini

2 medium onions

2 medium tomatoes

salt and pepper

dried basil

In a large pan, sautee onions until translucent.  Add peppers and zucchini, sprinkle with dried basil, and sautee until soft.  Add lentils and just enough water to barely cover.  Simmer until lentils are soft and much of the water has evaporated.  While simmering the lentil mixture, put the unpeeled garlic cloves in an oven-safe pan with about 1/4 cup olive oil. (I just trim the bottoms of the cloves off so it’s easier to remove later.)  At 350º, roast the garlic until soft.  Remove garlic cloves from their skins and save the oil for the pita chips.  Slice the roasted garlic and throw into the lentils. Place whole tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds (until the skins crack), rinse under cold water, peel and chop.  Add tomatoes to lentils, stir, and remove from heat.  Serve over rice if you prefer.  Put pita chips in a big bowl as the centerpiece to enjoy with your lentils.  A nice tossed salad tastes great with the meal too!

Pita Chips:

3 whole wheat pitas

Reserved olive oil from roasting garlic

Oregano and paprika

Cut pita breads into about 8 pie-sliced shapes (in half, then the halves in quarters).  Place them on a greased cookie sheet and lightly oil the tops of the pita pieces with the garlic oil left over from roasting garlic.  Sprinkle with oregano, paprika, and salt if you prefer.  Place under broiler (on low) for about 2 minutes, turn, oil and sprinkle spices on other side, and put back in broiler for another 2 minutes.  WATCH them because they scorch easily!  Remove from oven, cool until crisp, and serve.  Very addictive!

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