Simple legume is a canvas for creativity
Smart choice: A good cook loves lentils for their variety of textures and colors — black, pink, red, green and more — good nutrition, ease of cooking and easy-to-swallow prices. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
4 cups homemade vegetable broth, or low-sodium canned vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium onions, coarsely diced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1/3 to 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Combine lentils, broth, salt, pepper to taste, thyme and bay leaves in a saucepan. Cover; place over medium heat. Heat to a simmer; cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; drain. Transfer lentils to a large heatproof bowl. Let cool, unrefrigerated, to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery; cook until the carrots are soft, about 12 minutes. Do not allow the onions to brown.
3. Add the contents of the skillet to the lentils; gently mix together. Stir in the vinegar and mustard; mix in the parsley. Serve immediately or chill and serve.
Per serving: 244 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 34 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein, 461 mg sodium, 12 g fiber.