When I went on the hunt for vegetarian meals, my good friend Molly came to the rescue and sent me a yummy list of unique meal options. This BBQ Lentils recipe was one of the first I tried out. I don’t cook with lentils often and the recipe sounded quite unique so it caught my eye right away. We also love sloppy joes so I thought it might bring some reminiscent flavors that Joel would appreciate.
Lentils are packed with protein, iron and fiber while sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest veggies you could eat making this meal a nutritious delight. I also served it with steamed broccoli and carrots. Needless to say, when Joel walked in the kitchen and saw this spread he was not too thrilled. But once again, the only statement I said was “this was your idea.” I think when he decided he wanted to give up meat he just wanted to replace it with more seafood and lots of cheesy pasta but I figured if we were going to do this we should do it right. I have also informed him that after Lent ends we will probably have a couple meatless meals a week. He wasn’t thrilled.
The sweet potatoes and brown sugar helped balance out the zing of the balsamic vinegar in my opinion but Joel thought it was way to vinegar-y (mind you he doesn’t love the flavor of vinegar like I do). So, this is definitely a recipe you will want to taste and adjust according to personal preferences.
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) black lentils (I used green and they worked just fine)
- 2 cloves garlic; 1 whole, 1 minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, or more if needed
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, or more if needed
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- Combine the lentils, 4 cups of water, and the whole (peeled) clove of garlic in a saucepan or Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, until the lentils are soft but still hold their shape. Toward the end of cooking, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.
- Drain the lentils, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and discard the garlic clove.
- Wash and dry the pot you used to simmer the lentils. Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the onion and minced garlic, and sauté until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potato and cook until softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in the cayenne and the ginger. Then add the ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, if using, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the lentils and the reserved cooking water to the pot. Simmer until the sauce coats the lentils and the mixture is no longer soupy. Taste for balance of flavors, adding more brown sugar or vinegar if necessary.