From Maria's Table: Vegan Cretan Lentils

Vegan lentils recipe - Cretan table

Is there anything more healthy and hearty than a big bowl of lentils? I'm a big fan of warming dhals, protein-backed lentil salads and, of course, the Mediterranean versions stewed with tomatoes and herbs. 

When I first went to study in Spain during University, my "host madre" there must have made lentils for our big Spanish lunches every day. And I never got tired of it. 

The first time Maria put this on a plate in front of me, all those lovely feelings of a nurturing meal came back. 

So, since it's a grim month in an extra grim time, I thought we'd share Maria's take on this classic Mediterranean diet dish—that offers so much cheap and cheerful nutrition to get us through any season. 

Here are the ingredients you'll need:

    • 250 grams of dry lentils
    • 1 large onion (ideally white)
    • 2-3 fresh tomatoes
    • 2-3 sun-dried tomatoes
    • 1-3 bay leaves
    • Dried oregano
    • Salt & pepper to taste
    • Splash of vinegar (we'd recommend wine or apple cider)
    • 1 garlic clove (optional)

Here's the method for making them:

  1. Boil the lentils for about 8 minutes.
  2. While you're doing this, chop a big onion and grate three ripe tomatoes on a cheese grater. (Extra tip: "Best to grind tomatoes during the summer and put them in the freezer." The Greeks are much more mindful about what the seasons mean for flavour and nutrients than we do in London.)
  3. When the lentils have boiled for 8-10 minutes, Maria says to drain and rinse them. "I do, otherwise the food will be a little brownish," she explains.
  4. In the same pot that you boiled the lentils in, pour out some olive oil and sizzle the onion for a few minutes to soften.
  5. Add the lentils back to the pot with the onions, add in the grated tomatoes and  "cover them with enough water. The more water you add, the more they will look like a soup. Don't  overdo it, though."
  6. Add in some salt & pepper to taste, 2 bay leaves, some pinches of oregano and the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Maria also says an option here is to add in garlic, if you like that sort of thing.
  7. Cook for another 8-10 minutes on medium fire.
  8. When done, add a splash of vinegar. Then, top with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.*

*In general, we try to limit the amount of olive oil we use while cooking and, instead, use as much as the very end so it holds onto its flavour and nutritious elements as much as possible.

This is another great dish for making a head of time. Eat it hot now as a soup, use it as a nice side or cool down and drain off some of the liquid to use these seasoned lentils in a salad.

 

– Sarah, founder of Citizens of Soil

🫒Are you making this? Got any questions or want to share how it went? Drop us a message or tag us in your photos on Instagram at @CitizensofSoil.