I’m pretty sure every plant eater must go through this, but there are times when I seem to hit a wall. I simply can’t think of anything to eat that remotely interests me and simultaneously resides in my fridge, or that is satisfying without a lot of effort. In those dark times I envy the easy life of the omnivore. Remember omelets?
Remember how easy they were to make, and how awesome? How easy was a tuna sandwich? Or a grilled cheese? Any meal is susceptible to this feeling of despair, but lunch seems to be particularly vulnerable. There’s only so many veggie burgers a girl can eat. And there’s no falafel joint in my town.
Fortunately I’ve recently discovered a nice go-to sandwich filling that rivals egg salad or tuna fish for ease and scrumptiousness (not to mention protein content). It’s curried lentil puree, and it’s become a staple in our house. I usually keep a container of it in the fridge like you would hummus, ready to be whipped out when needed.
It can be used in any number of ways: as a dip, as a cracker spread, sandwich spread, bagel spread (one of my favorites), but I most often use it as a sandwich filling. I make a sandwich out of it like you would a grilled cheese: I slather the puree between two pieces of bread and toast it on the stovetop in a pan (no oil necessary), flipping it so that both sides of the sandwich get nicely browned. Of course you can also use two pieces of toast, or even just plain untoasted bread, but somehow grilling it as if it was a grilled cheese sandwich, sans the butter, yields a tastier sandwich.
When my son was a bit younger he really liked these “lentil sandwiches.” As he’s grown into toddlerhood and become pickier in general, he likes them on a mood-by-mood basis. For me, though, they’ve become a go-to lunch. Quick, easy, and immensely satisfying. I’m hoping that as he grows older he also grows to accept them as a staple.
The spiciness is easy to adjust. I used to measure everything carefully so as not to overwhelm my son (as per the recipe below), but lately I just eyeball it. But if you choose to measure, I’ve indicated below the amount of curry my son likes, as well as the spicier amount that I prefer. Make it as thick or thin as your preference dictates; I like mine pretty thick as I use it as a sandwich filling, but you’d want it a bit thinner for a dip or spread.
Also you can make it as smooth or chunky as you wish: again, for a dip, smoother is better, but as a sandwich filling I like a bit of texture.
Curried Lentil Puree:
Puree in a food processor or blender:
2 cups cooked lentils
toddler version: 2 teaspoons curry powder
grown-up version: 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Additional water as needed
Add water one tablespoon (or less) at a time until you have the right consistency. If your lentils are cooked very soft you may need no additional water.
The puree will thicken a bit as it sits in the fridge so you can thin it out with a touch more water or oil the next day if you like.