(Vegan) Quick Mexican Lentils with Creamy Polenta
Happy New Year!! AHHHH it’s 2017! Time for my first recipe of the year, developed this morning in my kitchen among the dirty champagne glasses from last night’s festivities (love that Moet rose). Don’t get me wrong though – I’ve been cooking up this baby in my mind for months now!
Most people don’t eat enough plants, let alone plant-based proteins. Even though I am not a vegan, I’m making it my personal business this year (and every year) to show you that plant-based meals can be easy, filling, and most of all, delicious. It’s totally fine to love meat and fish and still eat them, but I’m a strong believer in mixing things up and having plant-based meals at least once or twice a week (or once or twice a day, depending on what your goals are). Dishes like this Mexican lentil recipe with polenta are what I’d call a perfect gateway to plant-based eating. Just so you believe me, my 9 year old daughter and my meat and potato-loving, beer-drinking hockey-playing husband aka The Critic were hovering around annoying me while I was photographing this recipe. They couldn’t wait for me to finish so they could snatch the food away and eat it, which they did. The Critic in particular was most effusive about how much he loved the lentils! Score!!
The funny thing is that waking up this morning on New Year’s Day, I thought I had all the ingredients for this recipe but actually did not. I was out of garlic besides one fairly large but sad-looking clove in my fridge, and I had no tomato paste. Doh!! What I found was a can of chipotle chiles in adobo, which I used, fingers crossed, to replace the tomato sauce. What ended up happening was that they were a thousand times better in this dish than tomato paste could ever hope to be. So I was extremely stoked! Even The Critic was like, ‘what is that incredible flavor? It’s better than your normal beans!’ – um. Thanks, honey! But he was talking about those chiles.
This recipe is really quick to make, and if you don’t like spicy, you can certainly cut down the chiles or, replace them with tomato paste.
Another great thing about this recipe is that you can repurpose it. These lentils would be amazing in tacos, salads, or in a grain bowl. Multipurpose, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Lentils are full of fiber and protein, and they’re extremely easy to cook (and love). You can also use dried lentils in recipes – I use canned ones because they’re just more convenient for me.
The polenta takes a bit of time to cook, so if you’re in a hurry, replace it with rice, or just make a salad and eat these yummy lentils with that!
This absolutely delicious plant-based meal will definitely become a family favourite!
- 2 540 ml cans lentils
- 1 796 ml can diced tomatoes drained
- 1 156 ml can tomato paste
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup packed cilantro chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 chipotles in adobo chopped (optional)
- 5 cups stock or water
- 1 cup cornmeal
In a medium pot, whisk the stock and cornmeal together and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the polenta starts pulling away from the pot and is a soft texture. This will take around 45 minutes.
In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil on high and add the chopped onion. Cook on medium heat until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the chili powder. paprika, and cumin and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to coat the onion and garlic with the spices.
Turn the stove to medium-low, and add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato paste, cilantro, chipotles (if using), and salt.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes, then serve.