We were blessed to grow up in a home where my mom defied the additive-laden and trendy boundaries of the Standard American Diet. Instead of white sandwich bread utterly devoid of life,we ate homemade, whole wheat bread. Unlike other children who we thought were lucky enough to score proper sweets, like Snickers or Twinkies, we ate Whole Wheat Crazy Cake or a simple fruit crisp. While other families ate all-white pasta dishes moistened with msg-spiked canned cream soups, we ate our Baked Lentils with Cheese. Although not all my mother’s creations were welcomed–for some reason, for years, her pancakes were always blackened—these humble lentils excited us, a wonderful sight at lunchtime after spending the morning hashing through math problems. Lentils cook up quickly and are high in fiber, iron, thiamine, phosphorus, and manganese as well as being low in cost. Their nutritional content is enhanced by a 7 hour soaking. Along with the cheese, the lentils form a complete protein. You’ll never miss the meat!
My sister and I put together a pan of these over the weekend, following the recipe in More With Less, and it fed far more than the 6 people the recipe said it served!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1 3/4 cups lentils
2 cups water
1 whole bay leaf
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp each marjoram, sage, and thyme
2 large onions
2+ cloves garlic
2 cups canned diced organic tomatoes
2 large carrots
1/2 cup celery
1 green pepper (optional)
2 tbs. parsley
3+ cups cheddar cheese
1. Rinse and sort lentils.
2. Chop onions and mince garlic.
3. Mix together lentils, water, tomatoes, salt, pepper, marjoram, sage, and thyme, garlic, and onions in a 9×13 baking dish.
4. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Meanwhile, chop carrots and celery thinly.
5. Chop peppers. Add vegetables to lentils and mix.
6. Bake covered for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
8. Bake for 5+ more minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.