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Friday, February 21, 2014

Cheap and Easy Gluten Free, Vegan Lentil and Vegetable Dinner (for #Meatless Monday)

Schlapped lentils and vegetable dinner
Free of gluten, wheat, eggs, soy, nuts, dairy, and soy

Cooked lentils are not particularly photogenic. Nor do they look gourmet when there is a big, brownish lump of them shlapped down on a plate. No, that's not a typo. "Shlap" is the type of noise that a thick mass of brown lentils makes when it if forcibly shlapped off a wooden spoon onto a plate.

But these lumpy little things are crazy cheap, pack a healthy punch and are quite versatile. They've been used around the world for millenia as a super cheap source of protein (30% of their calories come from protein), as well as iron, dietary fibre, vitamin B1 and folate. As a patriotic Canadian, I also find it really cool that Canada, by far, is the world's largest producer and exporter of lentils. [1] Go Saskatchewan!

Despite their appearance, lentils can also be remarkably tasty. My husband, who can be kind of picky, really likes this lentils and veggie dinner (and not just because it only requires one dish to clean up in the end). Not only that, but this simple cooked lentil and veggie dish costs less than $2 to make 4-6 servings of, and with a $2 bag of lentils you can get 2-3 batches of it.

The basic inspiration for this came from the More-with-Less Cookbook , which I grew up reading. I'm not Mennonite (the cookbook is compiled by Mennonites around the world as a means to make cheap, healthy meals), but this book was actually quite formative for me. While some of the recipes are outdated (most of us now know that margarine is not a better alternative to butter), the principles and tips for eating well on a budget are timeless, and I still flip through it to get ideas on how to use up leftover bits of kitchen scraps.

I also love that it's super flexible and that I can take whatever veggie scraps I have in the fridge and toss them into the pot, so it's a little different every time.

To serve:

I serve these lentils and veggies over Frozen Brown Rice that I prepare in big batches and freeze in small containers so it makes for a super simple dinner. I defrost a container of brown rice while the lentils are cooking.

Alternatively, while the lentils and veggies are simmering you can cook some quinoa or millet and serve the lentils over that.

For the two of us, this makes enough for a couple of dinners and lunches. It also freezes well so you could make a batch and freeze the leftovers for another night.

Ingredients for Cooked Lentils and Veggies (makes 6 servings)

1/4 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup dry green lentils (optional - soak lentils over night and sprout for a couple of hours)*  **
2 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
1 carrot, peeled and diced**
1 stalk celery (optional)**
1/2 zucchini, washed and diced (optional) **
1/2 bunch kale, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces (optional)
Or use other bits of scrap veggies from the fridge (peas, cauliflower, beans, etc)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt


1. In a bowl, rinse lentils with water, swirling lentils to clean. Drain and repeat a couple of times to wash away any dirt. If

2. In a medium-sized pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 7-8 minutes to soften. Add all remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, covered for 20-30 minutes, until lentils are soft and water is mostly absorbed.

* Soaking lentils overnight helps increase their digestive enzymes and their nutrient content.

How do you like your lentils?

** OAS Information: Lentils, carrots, celery and zucchini are all commonly related to oral allergy syndrome. However, the long cooking process should help destroy the allergen proteins and make them safer for most people to eat. Always use discretion when eating something that you might be allergic to.



This post was shared on the following great link parties: Waste Not Want Not WednesdayFat Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Hop, Fight Back Fridays, Gluten Free Fridays,   


  1. I love that word 'shlap' :-) Your Lentil and Vegetable dinner looks really good, despite lentils not being very photogenic! There's so much nutrition and flavour on that plate - and I love how it's freeze-able and so convenient! Thank you for sharing another wonderful recipe with the Hearth and Soul hop, Danielle. I've pinned it to my Vegan recipes board.

    1. Thanks so much for pinning it, April! And yes, I am in the habit of making up words from time to time (although with much less eloquence than Shakespeare and others who invented words ;p )

  2. I made a version of this yesterday and today - it was surprisingly tasty and so cheap and easy to make. Rich even took some to eat during his shift :) - Noelle

  3. OOOOO when did you start doing meatless mondays?! I LOVE THAT! (I'm a vegan :P)

    1. Kate, i had no idea you were vegan! I started meatless mondays earlier this month (I wrote a post on why here: ), but my recipes have always been mostly meat-free with vegan options, I just decided it's time to label them as such!

  4. I make something similar to this. I also like to add a couple of handfuls of lentils to things like spaghetti sauce and chili as a thickener and meat extender.

    1. Hi, yes! I find the red lentils work best for adding to sauces and stews because they cook up quickly and just disintegrate into mush so nobody even notices they're in there (perfect for picky lentil-haters ;p )

  5. I never say no to lentils so I love this recipe for gluten free, vegan lentils and veggies. I make a pot of lentil soup or stew often--varying my recipe a bit each week--so I look forward to trying this recipe soon. Thank you so much for sharing this hearty recipe on the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Blog Hop! I appreciate it!

    1. Thanks for hosting, Deborah, and I hope you enjoy the lentils :)


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