Make this oriental lentil casserole with bacon, carrots, beets and raisins, and sprinkle it with cinnamon for an unusual but extraordinary flavour combination.
In many cultures lentils (and peas) symbolize abundance and fortune, therefore one must eat it at the beginning of the New Year to ensure their own and their family’s prosperity in the year to come.
Due to this tradition my family’s obligatory lunch on January 1st always had lentil soup. Which as a kid I hated. My sisters and I tried to boycott my mom’s lentil soup, but the responsibility of the whole family’s fortune resting on our eating a bowl of lentil soup was too much, so we grumbled but ate it. Thankfully my mom heard our complaints and experimented with other dishes containing lentil and that’s how this oriental lentil casserole entered our lives. It was instant success the first time she made it: not just us kids, but my dad as well asked for seconds. To this day it’s a favourite in our house, and my mom never has to listen to me or my sisters grumble about having to eat lentil anymore.
My mom’s original recipe only had carrots and parsnips, but no beets. I added those because I had some at home and was feeling like adding some bright pink to it, because seriously, if a dish can have bursts of vibrant pinks, then why not?
This oriental lentil casserole starts with sautéing some onions, beet, carrot and parsnip bits on the bacon grease, then you add the lentils, raisins and spices, cover the pot and let it cook until the lentils become tender, about half an hour and that’s it!
- 8 oz. (220 gr) bacon
- 1 big onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 1-2 beets
- 2 cups green lentils
- 2 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- 2-3 bay leaves
- ½ cup raisins
- Put the lentils in a bowl, cover with warm water and let them soak for at least 1 hour, or even overnight.
- Dice the bacon and roast them in a big pot or Dutch oven until the bacon is almost crunchy and has released its grease.
- Add the chopped onions and garlic and sauté them on the bacon grease.
- Add the diced beet and sliced carrot and parsnip bits to the onion and cook them for a few minutes.
- Rinse the lentils and add them to the vegetables, covering them with enough water so that the lentils are underwater.
- Season with salt, cinnamon and the bay leaves, add the raisins and cover the pot. Let it cook on low for about 30-50 minutes, until the lentils become soft.
- Add more salt/cinnamon if needed. Enjoy while it's warm.
Rachel O. says
Looks delicious! Not enough recipes contain parsnips, lol…they’re so good for you and taste much better than most people assume they do!
Thank you Rachel, it was! Somehow we can never make too much of this, there are no leftovers for the next day (or even dinner for that matter ;-). I agree, parsnips have such a sweet earty taste, don’t know why they aren’t more popular.
Lentils are one of those things that I never really appreciated until the last few years. This casserole sounds wonderful – love that it has raisins!
Oh the raisins are the “cherry on top” if I may say so 😉
Dani @ Dani California Cooks says
Hello! I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog today! This recipe looks delicious and I love finding new ways to eat lentils. I bet this would delicious hot or cold!
Thank you Dani for stopping by and for lovely comment! Yes, we have eaten it hot, lukewarm and even cold, and it tasted delicious any way 😉 (Boyfriend even puts some sour cream or creme fraiche on top to fancy it up if he feels like it, and that goes really well with it.)
Jessica @ Citrus Blossom Bliss says
I’ve never been the biggest fan of lentils, but if they always looked this beautiful I think I would’ve tried and liked them by now! Beautiful photography!
Thanks so much Jessica! 🙂
Boyfriend isn’t a fan of lentils either, and he was quite reluctant to try this. But after his first tentative spoonful he ate the whole plate without stopping, and now he isn’t that hostile towards lentils anymore 😉
Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog says
Looks super delicious!
We love your blog and have nominated you for the Leibster Award! http://simplysundaysfoodblog.com/2016/03/31/liebster-award/
I just saw your comment, thanks so much! Will check out your post, have a great weekend!
Dani @ Dani California Cooks says
One dish that I remember from my childhood is lentil soup – my mom used to make it with sliced hot dogs (probably why I liked it so much!)
Oh, I never heard of that version before, but as kids we sure loved our hot dogs so I can easily picture them selling any kind of soup better for kids 😉