Lentil-Mushroom Pita Pockets with Lemon-Yogurt Dressing

Legumes have made their debut as a must in any diet. They’re a great source of protein and high in dietary fiber. From black beans and peas to tempeh and tofu, legumes offer a variety of flavors and textures. Lentils, in particular, are served in a variety of cuisines from soups in Europe to main dishes in the Mediterranean. A mushroom-lentil taco recipe called out to me, but instead of making tacos, I opted for a Mediterranean twist by placing the filling in warmed pita pockets. Feel free to experiment with the recipe as you please.

Lentil-Mushroom Pita Pockets 2015-01-10 18.51.17

Ingredients:

> 1 cup cooked lentils
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 2 cups chopped mushrooms
> 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
> 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
> salt and pepper
> pinch of paprika
> 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
> 6 ounces non-fat plain Greek yogurt
> 3 cups arugula
> 4 whole grain pita pockets, warmed

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the mushrooms are cooking, make the lemon-yogurt dressing. Stir together the lemon juice and yogurt in a small bowl.

Reduce the heat to low. Add cooked lentils, garlic, cumin and a sprinkle of salt, pepper and paprika to mushrooms.

To assemble, cut pita pockets in half, spread lemon-yogurt dressing inside the halves and fill with a few spoonfuls of lentil-mushroom mix. Top with a handful of arugula and a dollop of dressing.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Food52.

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Lentil-Walnut Green Tacos

I love taking vegetarian spins on classically meat-heavy Mexican meals. I’ve made two types of vegetarian tacos in the past — one filled with a carrot sofrito, and the other with a chickpea-bean mix. This time I decided to make one of the healthiest of tacos out there that is friendly to all kinds of diets. It’s gluten-free and vegan. Instead of using corn tortillas, these tacos use lettuce wraps as the taco shell.

Lentil-Walnut Taco

Ingredients:

> 1 cup green lentils
> 1 cup walnut pieces
> 1 teaspoon ground cumin
> 1 teaspoon chili powder
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 2 tablespoons water
> 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
> 4 tomatoes, diced
> 12 leaves large romaine
> toppings: salsa, sliced avocado, sliced green onion, cilantro

Instructions:

To make the lentil-walnut meat, bring 2 cups water to a boil, and add lentils. Simmer for 25 minutes or until tender. Drain excess water. Combine walnuts, lentils, cumin, chili powder and a dash of salt in a food processor. Pulse until chopped. Add oil and water, and process until well combined.

Grill bell peppers until soft, about 8 minutes.

Assemble tacos by topping lettuce lead with lentil-walnut meat, grilled peppers and other toppings.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Oh She Glows.

Stuffed Eggplant with Lentils

Winter vegetables are some of favorite, including eggplant. This recipe with the predominant flavors of eggplant and lentils is a satisfying and nourishing meal for a cold winter evening.

Stuffed Eggplant

Ingredients:

> 1 eggplant, halved lengthwise
> cooking spray
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 medium onion, finely chopped
> 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
> 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
> 2 cups cooked lentils
> 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
> salt and pepper

Instructions:

Heat oven to 450°. Remove pulp from eggplant, and cut pulp into 1/4-inch cubes. Coat eggplant shells with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place eggplant shells open side down.

Coat eggplant cubes with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt. Place in one layer on the same baking sheet. Bake eggplant shells and cubes until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove eggplant, and reduce oven to  350°.

In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Cook onion and carrot until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, lentils, eggplant cubes and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

Flip shells on baking sheet and stuff with lentil-eggplant mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until warm, about 10 minutes.

Optional: Top with goat cheese or other desired cheese.

Makes 2 servings plus extra lentil-eggplant mixture.

Adapted from Self.

Lentil Stew

After a cold windy day, the most satisfying meal is a hearty stew. Filled with protein and savory flavors, the lentils provide texture. With vegetable broth and water, the consistency can be made into a thinner soup or thicker stew.

Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

> 1 cup lentils, rinsed
> 2 garlic cloves, 1 whole, 1 chopped
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 cup chopped onion
> 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
> 1 cup vegetable broth
> 1 cup frozen spinach, dethawed
> salt and pepper

Instructions:

Boil a medium saucepan of water. Add the lentils and whole garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until the lentils are tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain the lentils and set aside.

Heat oil in another large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, under tender and lightly brown, 4-5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cumin, stirring until aromatic, about 1 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup broth and spinach and bring to a boil. Stir in reserved lentils and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more broth and water to thin stew, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe.