Just so you know, I’m a big, BIG fan of easy. I may cook dinner 5-6 times a week, but I rarely spend more than 30-40 minutes preparing and cooking my meals (and half of that is spent scrolling through my phone while waiting for it to finish). As much as I love a big, complicated meals I just don’t have the time or the patience during the week; I want to get the most out of my (minimal) efforts and that means a meal that will stretch into lunch the next day but doesn’t sacrifice flavor. Enter the spicy lentil and grain bowl.
Like I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m not a precise cook and I like a recipe that allows for variation. I have a few favorite dishes with a foundation of pasta, lentil or rice but what they’re paired with is usually determined by what is left in my fridge. Is is summer? Tomatoes, lemon and greens maybe be good additions. Fall? Butternut squash and kale may be better choices. Is it just time to clean out everything in your fridge? Throw that sh** in the pot and see what happens.
It may not always be a hit, but adventuring with new ingredient combinations and flavors is sure to build your kitchen confidence.
Though I may have a lazy approach to ingredient planning, I am not lackadaisical about my sauces and spices. To me the flavor combinations make the meal. Anyone can throw a chicken breast in the oven or boil pasta and add vegetables, but it’s the herbs, spices and sauces that bring a dish to life. It’s the combination of deep, musky spices liked curry and cumin with a fresh squeeze of citrus and spicy North African harissa sauce that take this dish from bland to bold (and if you didn’t already know, I like my food bold).
Below is the foundation formula for my favorite lentil bowl and a recipe for my most recent ingredients combinations–however, as always, you do you.
(any variety, soaked overnight or instant if you don’t want to wait)
(farro, kamut, rice, quinoa, cous cous, etc.)
(onion, garlic, roasted red peppers, kale, arugula, chard, sundried tomatoes, etc.)
(paprika, turmeric, curry, cumin, onion powder, garlic, etc.)
(If that’s your thing, if not then omit and go vegan)
Spicy Harissa sauce
(Not optional, the sauce makes this dish. Trust me.)
A staple lentil grain bowl with sunny egg that can use any vegetables you have on hand..
- 1 cup farro or other grain
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups lentils (soaked overnight or ready to serve)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
- 2 cups arugula (or other vegetable)
- 1 tsp butter or oil
- 1 egg (per serving)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp harissa sauce (per serving)
- First, start water to cook farro or grain of your choice (follow package instructions).
- While grain is cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in large pot or dutch oven.
- Add sliced onions, cooking 3-5 minutes or until beginning to soften.
- Add minced garlic, cooking 2 minutes more.
- Stir in lentils and then add cumin, curry powder, paprika, turmeric and juice of lemon or lime. Cook 1-2 minutes more, then reduce heat to low to keep hot until grain is finished.
- Once grain is done cooking and strained of excess water, stir in with lentils and add arugula or other leaf vegetable.
- Remove from heat and scoop lentil and farro mixture into bowls.
- Heat butter in small pan over medium heat. Add egg and heat until white is fully cooked but yolk is running (about 5 minutes).
- Top lentils with fried egg, 1 tbsp harissa sauce and slice of lemon.
This recipe is highly customizable, so feel free to play with spice amounts and whatever vegetables you have on hand.