You Can Take It With You: Rainbow Lentils

Lunchtime: unequivocally the best part of the day. But could it be better? Yes sir, it can. You don’t have to spend gobs of money going out, but you also shouldn’t be packing the same peanut butter sandwich year in and year out; there is a middle way. The path to becoming a lunch box buddha isn’t so hard. All you need is a good balance of inspiration and  improvisation. Every week, we’ll make one or two packable recipes so that you have something new to fill your lunch box and your stomach. 

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we went grocery shopping with apps in hand? Well this time we’re going to do it the old fashioned way. On the way to the store the other week, my phone warned me that it was just about to die. I had my list on my phone and didn’t have any paper with me but didn’t want to forget anything when I got there. My friend suggested that I remember my list by color; how many red things did I need, how many brown things and so on. So that’s what I did. I was making couscous so I needed:

Yellow: couscous, olive oil

Red: tomatoes, paprika

White: feta cheese, garlic

Green: parsley

It was only seven things, but I’m notoriously bad about forgetting one crucial thing from a recipe. I’m please to report that using this method worked perfectly. I just imaged the flag of an imaginary country where each color block corresponded to the number of things I needed in that color. Red, white and yellow each had two items while green only had one, so here’s the mental grocery list I came up with:

food flag

This kind of shopping is great when you’re buying lots of fruits and vegetables, but gets tricky when you’re buying things in boxes (should you remember the color of the box or the color of the thing in the box? I’m still trying to figure this out). Something multicolored like Fruity Pebbles is even harder to remember. Which is really just one more reason I should stop buying delicious sugary kids’ cereal. Give it a try next time you go shopping and see if it works for you. Or, if you’ve got your own low-tech method, let us know what it is!

Rainbow Lentils


via the kitchn

2 1/4 cups of dry lentils
4 cups of water
1 t of parsley
1 t of pepper + more to taste later
1 t of salt + more to taste later
1/4 t of cayenne pepper
1 large onion
3 bell peppers, 1 of each color
4 cloves garlic
Olive oil
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup of flat parsley leaves
1 cup of mint leaves
1 pomegranate
1 1/2 ounces of parmesan cheese
1 lemon
2 tablespoons of honey

1. Pour the dry lentils with a pot, sprinkle on the parsley, pepper, salt and cayenne pepper, and cover it with 4 cups of water. Alternatively, you can use chicken or vegetable stock. When the water comes to a boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. You want the lentils to be soft but not mushy. Depending on the type you buy, this can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Drain the water and let the lentils cool.

2. Dice the onion and pepper and mince the garlic. Cook them in olive oil until the peppers are soft but not mushy (you do sense a theme coming on?) and the onions are translucent.

3. Chop the walnuts, slice the parsley and mint, grate the parmesan and zest and juice the lemon. So many cooking verbs!

4. Peel and de-seed the pomegranate. I usually do this in a big bowl of water so that if a seed pops, the juice doesn’t get all over me. The added bonus of doing it in water is that the pith and peel float while the seeds sink, making it really easy to separate them.

5. Combine the honey and half the parmesan with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Stir your heart out.

6. It’s time to put it all together. Throw absolutely everything in a bowl with the lentils and stir.

+ Storage: This salad will keep in the refrigerator for a week and tastes better as time goes on.

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.

1 Comment

  1. I loooove lentils and I don’t actually think I’ve ever had them cold??? I am a little weary of the pomegranate situation but I am going to open my mind and try this!

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