Adding plant-based proteins like lentils is a great way to add variety to your diet and have a meal that is quick and easy to make. Lentils are a great source of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Combining them with foods rich in vitamin C, like bell peppers, tomatoes and kale, helps to maximize iron absorption.
with Lisa Podlecki
Recipe adapted from Pulses cookbook
1½ cups (375 mL) green lentils
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tsp. (7 mL) chili powder
½ tsp. (2 mL) cumin
1 tbsp. (15 mL) canola oil
1 red pepper, chopped
½ large white onion, chopped
8 small whole wheat tortillas
1½ cups (375 mL) grated cheese
½ cup (125 mL) cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
In a medium-sized pot, bring the lentils to a boil in 4½ cups of water. Reduce heat to low and add garlic, chili powder and cumin. Loosely cover the pot and allow lentils to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Note: Dried lentils do not need to be soaked. Simply rinse with water in a colander and boil. Canned lentils do not need to be boiled.
Once ready, drain lentils in a colander and place in a large bowl. Add a pinch more cumin and/or chili powder if desired.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Once warm, add peppers and onions. Sauté until onions become slightly translucent and peppers soft. Add the pepper/onion mixture to the bowl of lentils. Stir to combine.
Lay out 8 tortillas on the counter. Place about ½ cup of lentil mixture over half of each tortilla. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of cheese over each half and top with cilantro. Fold the empty half of the tortilla over.
Gently place quesadilla in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until brown. Carefully, turn over the quesadilla and brown the other side. Cut into wedges or eat as is. Serve with salsa, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt. Substitute vegetables as desired—for example, mushrooms would add great flavour and jalapeño peppers would add some spice!
Lisa Podlecki is a Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist in Edmonton. Lisa loves helping individuals meet their nutrition goals in a healthy and sustainable way and regularly speaks at the Running Room training programs. For more information, visit her website at www.oaktreenutrition.com. (Bio photo: Kaihla Tonai Photography)