the taste space

Sweet and Sour Lentils with Carrot and Bell Pepper over Arugula

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on April 15, 2011


If last year was the year of Aleppo chili flakes, pomegranate molasses and bulgur, I already know what 2011 will be: year of the beans (and pea shoots!). Yes, I will be full (of beans) this year.

Chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans, lentils (of many colourful varieties), cranberry/Borlotti beans, lima beans, adzuki beans and edamame. If my recent trip to Kalustyan’s is any indication, I will also begin cooking with Anasazi beans, Appaloosa beans, Calypso beans, Christmas Lima beans, Jackson Wonder beans, Jumbo Lupini, Macedonian Tetovac, Rattlesnake beans, Scarlet Runner beans, Spanish Tolosana (Prince beans), Tepari beans, and my favourite (purely by name at this point) Tongues of Fire beans!

Just as Aleppo chili flakes revolutionized my cooking, cooking dry beans from scratch has also been eye-opening. They taste better. They have a better texture. You can flavour them as they cook, or leave them as a blank canvas. They are healthier. They are cheaper. And I bet you, Tongues of Fire beans cannot be found canned. (Aside, any clue where to buy dried heirloom beans in Toronto/Canada? I am envious of Americans and their Rancho Gordo heirloom bean supply)

Canned beans are definitely more convenient, and I do not poo-poo the canned variety in the slightest; canned beans are better than no beans at all. I even have canned beans stashed away for my emergency bean needs. ;)

For the less bean-savvy, lentils are great because they cook up quickly. They don’t require any pre-soaking, so everything can come together once the beans are finished cooking in 20-30 minutes.

I went with an orange theme for these sweet-and-sour lentils. Adapted from Mama’s Minutia, who in turn, adapted it from the More-with-Less Cookbook, these lentils have a sweet tang with a sour acidity.  For my veggies, I pulled out the orange in my fridge: carrots and an orange bell pepper. It tasted good with a pinch of cloves, but then I added a heavy dusting of Vietnamese cinnamon, and this was sublime. Paired with arugula for a touch of greenery and its peppery bite, this was a great meal. Full of beans, yet again. :)


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Anh from A Food Lover’s Journey.

Sweet and Sour Lentils with Carrot and Bell Pepper over Arugula

1 cup green lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
2.5 cups vegetable broth or water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced bell pepper
1/4 cup agave nectar, maple syrup, or brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup mango juice (or other fruit juice – apple, pineapple, etc)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
8 cups arugula

1. Simmer the lentils and bay leaf in the broth for 20-30 minutes, or until tender.

2. In a separate frypan, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for 2-3 minutes. Add in carrots and saute another 2 minutes. Add in bell pepper and saute until all vegetables are soft, but still with a bit of bite.

3. Meanwhile, combine the maple syrup, vinegar, juice, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Mix to combine and set aside.

4. Once the vegetables reach your desired consistency, deglaze your pan with the dressing. Heat through for 30 seconds.

5. When the lentils are ready, remove the bay leaf. Add to the vegetables and heat through, taste to correct seasonings, and serve over arugula or rice/quinoa/etc.

Serves 6.

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26 Responses

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  1. Jennifer Jo said, on April 15, 2011 at 6:56 AM

    What a great idea to serve them that way! They look wonderfully delicious!

  2. Dawn Hutchins said, on April 15, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Sweet and sour lentils…yum. I’m drooling over this photo!

  3. Jodi said, on April 15, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    I love lentils with that bite of sour. There’s a lentil-pasta stew I make that calls for a tablespoon of red wine vinegar to be stirred in at the end. Once I forgot to put it in and we ate that stew for two days wondering why it just didn’t seem quite right. At some point it dawned on me — no vinegar! (Of course I should know better. That sourness is a classic flavour in Eastern European soups.)

    I adore bay leaf and your use of it here has me thinking that it should make an appearance in my next lentil-pasta stew.

  4. Julia said, on April 15, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    I love lentils and greens together! Simple, but really delicious and healthy. :) I make a similar dish but use balsamic vinegar to get the sour taste. I’ll have to try this fruitier version!

  5. Joanne said, on April 15, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    This year has definitely been the year of the bean for me as well! I could live off them. In fact…mostly I do.

    I’m loving the cinnamon you added to this salad! It’s like you made it specifically for me. I could add cinnamon to just about anything and be extremely pleased.

  6. Jeanette said, on April 15, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    What an interesting nutritious salad. The dressing sounds nice and tangy – love lentils and will have to try using them more in salads like this one!

  7. Priya said, on April 15, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Nutritious salad, looks super delicious..

  8. Priya Yallapantula said, on April 15, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Love the idea of sweet and sour lentils, have to give it a try :)

  9. ericascime said, on April 15, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    I am about to run to the grocery store for some lentils :) Thanks for this fabulous dinner idea!

  10. Cassie said, on April 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    I am always looking for new and delicious ways with lentils. Sweet and sour? Never even thought of it. I am drooling at your list of names of beans… I have been eyeballing the Rancho Gordo site for a long time but haven’t ordered any yet. I just picked up some dried cannellinis at an Italian market and look forward to those soon.

  11. Maris (In Good Taste) said, on April 18, 2011 at 4:17 AM

    When something this good is also so healthy it is a win-win!

  12. tigerfish said, on April 20, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    That looks really nutritious, healthy and refreshing!

  13. Ashley said, on May 24, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    You had me until you said cinnamon and clove! While I enjoy both (especially cloves), I haven’t quite accepted them into my regular meals (versus desserts/sweets) yet. If you find Canadian heirloom beans let me know, I too am jealous of the Rancho Gordo beans!

  14. [...] you could use any white bean (white kidney, Great Northern, etc), after delving into my heirloom bean collection, I have realized wonderful novelty beans can be! The first bean I tried was the green flageolet. I [...]

  15. [...] may more as we both explore curries in our new kitchen.  I bet this year will not only be the year of the bean, but the year of the [...]

  16. [...] already knew this was going to be the year of the bean, but I have been slow on trying out my heirloom beans. I have a hard time using up an ingredient [...]

  17. [...] stew over top baby spinach with a sprinkle of toasted slivered almonds.   After throwing my sweet and sour lentils overtop arugula, I am learning that most bean dishes can be thrown overtop some greens for a lovely [...]

  18. [...] until I cook more of my heirloom beans, that salad will have to [...]

  19. [...] of cooking. Rarely repeated lunches, guilty as charged. Beyond that, I try not to share my profound love of beans with just anyone.  I don’t want to be perceived as preachy once I start talking about my [...]

  20. [...] I am actually looking at this as an opportunity to force myself to eat through my pantry. Eat all my beans before we trek out to Texas. I can replenish my stash from Rancho Gordo once we settle there, [...]

  21. [...] beans. Common beans like chickpeas and lentils but also a multitude of heirloom beans. I bought a bunch of beans during my first trip to NYC, but they seemed too pretty to eat. Now I am on a mission, [...]

  22. [...] of my goals is to eat through my heirloom beans. I’ve amassed a few from Kalustyan’s, Rancho Gordo as well as from local stores like [...]

  23. […] I have a pantry filled with heirloom specialty beans from Rancho Gordo and Kalustyan’s, I still keep finding new-to-me beans. During a cycling trip […]

  24. azee said, on November 21, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Oh!!!feel tasty…But did not taste uptill now because i have read it right now..Will make it this Sunday for my special guests…….

  25. Katie said, on January 12, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Hey I’ve been out of Toronto for almost 2 years but several farmers’ markets (Wychwood, Brickworks, and Sorauren) will have dried beans from time to time – usually beautiful and strange varieties when they do. Check out Karma Co-op and West End Food Co-op as well. Or – grow your own? You can get quantities of heirloom seeds for growing easily enough either from someone like Saltspring Seeds, at a seed swap (Wychwood has a huge one) or (free, I think) through Seeds of Diversity. Colette Murphy of Urban Harvest might also be able to point you in the right direction. They used to have some nifty varieties at their store on Sorauren, as I recall. Oh The Culinarium local food store would also be worth a shot, i seem to recall getting some fun beans there :) Recipe looks nice, thanks, and happy bean hunting!

  26. […] Oftentimes, I get stuck in the land of chickpeas and lentils when there are actually a lot more beans out there. With the Mexican slant in Houston, I have been gobbling up black beans with much gusto as of late. […]


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