If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, then you know how much I love lentils. They’re cheap, easy to cook, and are a blank slate for flavor. This week I decided to take one of my favorite spice combos and add it to some lentils. Warm cumin, garlic, and ginger pair with the subtle sweetness of ginger, cinnamon, and carrots to create a complex flavor that is simply out of this world. Spoon these saucy spiced lentils over something starchy like polenta, rice, or mashed sweet potatoes and you’ll be in lentil heaven.
Spiced but not Spicy
These lentils are seasoned with a slew of warm, sweet, and savory spices, but they are not hot or spicy. I did add a ¼ tsp crushed red pepper to the mix which gives the back end just a slight kick, but I still wouldn’t consider it spicy by any means. If you do happen to be sensitive to spicy flavors, you can reduce or eliminate the crushed red pepper.
What Kind of Lentils to Use
This recipe is designed for brown or green lentils (not French green lentils, which take much longer to cook). This type of lentil cooks in about 20-30 minutes of simmering, does not require soaking, and they hold their shape when softened. I do not recommend red, orange, or yellow lentils for this recipe because they break down quickly when cooked and will leave you with something more like a mush or porridge.
How to Serve Spiced Lentils
You can serve these lentils in a bowl on their own with some crusty bread for dipping, or spoon them over just about any type of starch. I served mine over a cornmeal mush (like polenta or grits), but you could also serve them over rice, mashed white potatoes or sweet potatoes, farro, or any other grain that you might like.
Meal Prep It!
I think these spiced lentils would make a fabulous vegetarian or vegan meal prep. They’ll keep well in the fridge for four to five days and should reheat quickly in the microwave. They’ll also freeze well, so you can stock a few extra portions in your freezer!
Spiced Lentils with Carrots
- 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger ($0.10)
- 4 carrots (about 2 cups chopped) ($0.56)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
- 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp allspice ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.02)
- 1 cup brown lentils ($0.67)
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste ($0.15)
- 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots or raisins* ($0.75)
- 3 cups vegetable broth ($0.40)
- 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional) ($0.10)
- Dice the onion, mince the garlic, grate the ginger, and peel and dice the carrots.
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and olive oil to a deep skillet. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent (about five minutes).
- Add the diced carrots, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, and crushed red pepper to the skillet. Continue to sauté for about two minutes more.
- Next, add the uncooked lentils, tomato paste, raisins or chopped apricots, and broth to the skillet. Stir until the tomato paste has dissolved into the broth. Place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to high.
- Allow the broth to come to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the lentils simmer in the broth with the lid on for 30 minutes, stirring only occasionally.
- After 30 minutes the lentils and carrots should be very tender. Give the lentils a taste and add salt or pepper if needed (this will depend on the salt content of your broth, I did not add any).
- Serve the spiced lentils with crusty bread for dipping, or over a bed of polenta or mashed potatoes. Top with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
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How to Make Spiced Lentils with Carrots – Step by Step Photos
Dice one yellow onion, mince four cloves of garlic, grate about one teaspoon fresh ginger, and peel and dice four carrots. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to a deep skillet along with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the chopped carrots to the skillet along with 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp allspice, and ¼ tsp crushed red pepper. Continue to sauté for about two minutes more.
Add one cup uncooked brown lentils, 3 Tbsp tomato paste, and 3 cups vegetable broth to the skillet.
Also, add ¼ cup chopped dried apricots or raisins to the skillet. If using dried apricots, chop them to about the same size as raisins.
Stir everything together until the tomato paste is mixed into the broth. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to high, and let the broth come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the lentils continue to simmer, with the lid in place, for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
After 30 minutes the lentils and carrots should be tender. Give them a taste and add salt if needed. I did not add any, but depending on the salt content of your broth, you may need a bit to make the flavors pop.
Serve the spiced lentils with crusty bread for dipping or over a bed of polenta or mashed potatoes. Top with chopped fresh parsley if desired.