Twice as Tasty

Spiced Red Lentil Dip

On March 2, Free the Seeds will focus on tiny seeds that make a big impact – like lentils

By Julie Laing
Photo by Julie Laing.

One of my harbingers of spring is Free the Seeds, which this year will be held March 2 at Flathead Valley Community College and themed Tiny Seed, Big Impact. I’ll be presenting my 10th workshop for the free, daylong event.

My workshop focuses on the ultimate tiny seeds with a big impact: lentils. Like many legumes, these seeds come packed with protein, fiber and nutrients. But unlike larger bean seeds, or dried beans as we call them in the kitchen, they don’t require presoaking and cook relatively quickly.

The workshop will feature some of my favorite lentil recipes and preparation techniques, including the dip I offer here. It’s just one example of how easily you can prepare a lentil-based dish.

I’ll also talk about incorporating lentils into your diet by sprouting, fermenting and cooking them. This includes sneaking them into meals or making them the focal point, from crispy snacks and dosas to soups and meatless main dishes.

Learn to Love Lentils is among more than 20 workshops being presented at Free the Seeds, with topics ranging from noodle and bread making, to natural fibers and pigments, to organic and wildlife-friendly gardening. The day’s activities also include a seed giveaway, seed donating and cleaning, a makerspace and booths featuring organizations and businesses involved in our community food system. I hope to see you there: March 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the FVCC Arts and Technology Building. Get more details at landtohandmt.org.

Spiced Red Lentil Dip

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup red lentils

1-1/2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons sunflower or other high-smoking point oil

1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds

1 dried chili, crushed

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil, slivered or crushed

1/2 lime

In a fine-mesh sieve, rinse the lentils under running water. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam and ensuring the pot doesn’t boil over. Reduce the heat to a simmer; stir in the turmeric. While the lentils cook, gather the remaining ingredients.

Cook the lentils, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until tender but retaining their shape. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Cover the saucepan with a lid; set aside.

In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until just below smoking point. Working quickly, stir in the mustard seeds; wait a few seconds until they start to pop, and then stir in the chili followed by the garlic. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly to keep the mustard seeds under control, until the garlic is golden on both sides. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil.

Pour the hot oil infusion over the lentils; stir to distribute evenly. Squeeze in the lime’s juice, and stir again; for a thinner dip, stir in a tablespoon or two of warm water. Serve immediately.

Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.