Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Curried Lentil Burritos

I had made a version of this burrito filling a few months ago, using a Cuisine At Home recipe from Cuisine Tonight: Sandwiches and Salads.  It's basically a mixture of lentils, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes, wrapped in a tortilla.  However, when I went to make it this time, the book was nowhere to be found.  A week later, as I'm writing this blog, it's still MIA.  So I just did the best I could from memory.  I consulted How to Cook Everything for directions on how to cook the lentils, and found that he has a similar recipe for Lentils and Potatoes with Curry.  It sounded very similar to the Cuisine at Home recipe, except that it was missing diced tomatoes and spinach, and it was not wrapped in a tortilla.

I omitted the potatoes because I don't like my burritos to have that many carbohydrates in them.  To me, the tortilla is plenty.  I'm the same way with rice.  I'll either have the burrito filling with rice and no tortilla, or the filling and tortilla but no rice.  I started doing that back when I was in Weight Watchers and it helps keep the Points values down to a reasonable level. 

Dried lentils are great to have on hand because they cook really fast - about the same amount of time it takes to cook rice.  They are a cheap source of protein too.  

Curried Lentil Burritos
inspired by Cuisine Tonight: Sandwiches and Salads, and Mark Bittman: How to Cook Everything
Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 cup dried lentils, washed and picked over
3 1/2 cups water, vegetable stock or broth, plus more as needed
1-15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 large bunch spinach, washed and roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 flour tortillas, any size that you want

Heat the oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  When hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent.  Add the curry powder and stir to combine.  A couple of minutes later, add the water or broth, the lentils, and the tomatoes.  Turn the heat up to medium high and bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the the mixture simmers gently.  Cover partially and let the mixture cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the lentils become too dry, add more liquid.  Season with salt as the lentils become tender.  

I don't really remember exactly how long we ended up cooking the lentils.  It's the kind of thing where you just need to keep checking on them and taste a few every now and then to see when they become tender.  We just kept them simmering until they started to fall apart a little, at which point we figured they were tender enough.  You should have a nice thick mixture when you are done.  If you still have a lot of liquid, remove the lid completely so more liquid will cook off.    

When the lentils are done, stir in the spinach.  It will cook down in just a couple of minutes.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper as necessary.

For the tortillas, heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat.  Lay one tortilla down inside the dry skillet and let it cook for 20 seconds or so, until it's lightly browned in spots.  It may even puff up a little.  Flip, and cook the other side.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas.  

Fill and fold up your burrito.  Garnish with plain yogurt, Yumm Sauce, or cilantro if desired.  

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