Day #11: Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole
Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

Readers,

I don’t know where you may be reading this from, but I am writing this from Canada, which means it is cold outside! Nothing screams dinner during the cold months quite like a casserole. This casserole is a bit more out of the box than the usual pasta, rice, and now quinoa casseroles that float around Pinterest. Instead of carbohydrates, this casserole uses lentils as the body of the casserole.

That’s right, today’s learning challenge is lentils! Lentils come in many varieties and are used in cuisines all over the world. They are economical, easy to cook, and high in fibre and protein. Personally, I am most familiar with them and their use in Indian cooking.

This article by Emma Christensen at The Kitchn lays out the simple steps involved in cooking lentils. Lentils.ca offers a quick breakdown on how uncooked lentils translate into cooked lentils amounts. There does appear to be some debate over whether to cook lentils covered or uncovered. In my experience, my family has cooked them covered. If following a recipe, I follow the instructions of the recipe on how to cook them. In this case the recipe below covers the steps needed to cook lentils.

Recipe

Lentils:
1 & 1/2 cups green lentils, rinsed and drained (aka uncooked and washed)
3 cups chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon salt
Chicken:
1 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon cumin (I chose to use ground cumin)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Vegetables:
1 large onion (diced)
5 large garlic cloves (crushed)
2 large bell peppers (diced)
1 teaspoon cumin (I chose to use ground cumin)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Cooking Spray
Mix Ins:
14 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 cups corn
2 cups shredded cheese (Olena suggests Tex Mex)
2 tablespoons jalepeno peppers (minced, can increase/decrease to taste)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin (I chose to use ground cumin)
1 cup of cilantro (chopped)

Directions can be found at IFoodReal. Recipe adapted from IFoodReal by Olena.

*Note
1.) Remember to rise out your lentils before you cook them. You do not soak the lentils.
2.) We cooked the lentils according to instructions but found the lentils to be tougher than we preferred. We added more chicken broth in and cooked for 10 minutes longer (a total of 45 minutes) until they were a bit softer and more to our liking. The lentils still maintained their shape.

Edible?

Yes! It turned out well. For those unaccustomed to lentils, it may take some time to adjust to the texture and earthy taste they inject into this dish. I found that this casserole tasted very similar to the chilli I made earlier in my challenge. Both recipes shared many of the same elements.

Try out different types of lentils and learn if there is a type you enjoy. As mentioned previously they are an excellent source of critical nutrients while being low on fat. They also make a convenient dish to batch cook! Make them for dinner and take leftovers over rice or quinoa for lunch the next day.

I would love to hear your experiences cooking lentils. How did it go? Is there a particular type you would recommend? Any recipes to share? Leave a comment below 🙂

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