On a cold winter night, when you crave something rich and hearty, lentil stew hits the spot. With the pungent scents of clove, garlic and roast turkey filling the air, you can almost feel the warmth before your first bite. Better still, this dish freezes well. It’s particularly nice to return from work to a home-cooked meal that simply needs reheating.
Lentils are native to Southwest Asia and are said to be among the oldest legumes ever cultivated. Popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, they vary by size, shape and color; the small, round, brown beans are the variety most popular in the West. Lentils are sold dried, but unlike other dried beans, they soften relatively quickly in water.
Rich sources of fiber, lentils are noted for their soluble fiber in particular. As soluble fiber passes through the digestive tract, it transforms into a gel-like consistency that can bind with cholesterol to eliminate it from your body. Because fiber slows the digestion of food, it can also keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time, helping with weight control. Experts point to diets rich in fiber containing foods as keys in combating heart disease and lowering risk for certain types of cancer.
This week’s recipe is perfect for using up any leftovers you might have on hand. Pre-cooked spinach, cauliflower and broccoli are a few examples of vegetables that can be added at the last minute and reheated just long enough to warm through.
Lentils with Carrots, Onions and Turkey
Makes 6 servings, 1 cup per serving.
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
- 2 celery stalks, washed and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 whole clove
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sliced carrots (1/2-inch slices)
- 12 ounces boneless, skinless roasted turkey breast, cut into bite-size pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
In a medium-size pan, cover the lentils, celery, onion, bay leaf, clove and garlic with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
Add carrots and cover again. Cook until the lentils are tender, a total of 30 to 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary.
Once lentils are tender, drain, remove the bay leaf, garlic and clove. Stir in the roasted turkey pieces. Season the with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 210 calories, 2.5 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 22 g carbohydrate, 24 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 130 mg sodium.
“Something Different” is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) offers a Nutrition Hotline online at www.aicr.org or via phone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday, at 1-800-843-8114. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will respond to your email or call, usually within 3 business days. AICR is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on how the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and weight management. The Institute’s education programs help millions of Americans lower their cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. Over $78 million in funding has been provided. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.