Up until eating vegan, lentils for me equalled soup. They were a winter legume that I immediately associated with a savoury bodies of sauce. One thing I’m sure all vegans/vegetarians can attest to is – once the meat is gone.. It’s time to get creative and beans become your best friend!
For me, the beginning phase of veganism involves a lot of substitution. Finding substitutions for my favourite flavours and textures was crucial in order to stay on the road less travelled. I have found flavours to be a little easier to replicate than texture, sometimes you just crave the chewy texture that only meat can give and it’s a tough nut to crack just using plant-based foods.
Back to lentils, I first really enjoyed lentils outside of a soup-situation when I have a lentil burger. That for me was the light bulb moment and when I realised that lentils can be used for virtually anything and are a great way to create that ever-illusive ‘bite’ and chewy texture you find in minced meats. This curry-flavoured lentil wrap is a nice departure from my usual Mexican style wrap. Don’t get me wrong, I love the refried beans and guacamole but sometimes you want something a little lighter with more fresh textures and this for me was it.
For this recipe I used the Woolworths multispeed wraps. They come in a pack of 8; I prefer to get through the pack before they get hard and dry out. They freeze quite well, but I believe that fresher the better. So as you can probably imagine, when I have an open pack I end up eating a lot of wraps that week. As mad as that sounds, if they are as light and flavourful as this lentil one, it’s understandable! The flavours and ingredients are things that I would commonly associate with north-African dishes. The hummus creates a creamy base and the cucumber cools the heat of the curried lentils. Then for freshness and crunch I added the iceberg lettuce. These wraps are a lovely lunchtime meal as they are not overly filling and you get great flavour satisfaction.
Because it is meant to be a quick and easy meal, I used caned precooked lentils. I am not sure how healthy an option they are in terms of preservatives etc.. I did rinse mine thoroughly and left them soaking in cold water whilst prepping the rest of my ingredients. One could just as easily cook lentils from scratch and just prepare them in advance.
1 can/ 250g precooked lentils
2 teaspoons mild curry paste
1 teaspoon powdered coriander
1 teaspoon of sugar
¾ cup chopped tomato
½ fresh coriander leaves
½ cup chopped cucumber
Roughly chopped iceberg lettuce
Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by rinsing your lentils, if you like, you can soak them in cold water whilst you prep the rest of your ingredients. Wash all your veggies and chop. Cube your tomatoes and quarter your cucumber slices. Roughly tear up your lettuce and set all fresh veggies aside.
Set your stove to a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of oil in it. Add your dry spices to the oil and heat for 2 – 3 minutes until the spices become fragrant and darken slightly in colour. Be careful not to burn them as they can turn on you quite quickly! Drain your lentils then add them to the pan. Heat and stir for a further 2 minutes before adding your curry paste and sugar. Heat the mixture for another minute or so before turning off the heat and allowing the mixture to cook on the residual heat. You can now add your chopped tomatoes and coriander to the pan then set the mixture aside.
Whilst the lentil mixture cools and the flavours mingle and become warm and fragrant you can prep your wraps. They can either be heated in a dry pan for about 10 seconds on each side or you can heat them up in the microwave for 10 seconds. Dependent on how hungry I am and how much of a hurry I’m in, I use either option. I do prefer heating them in a pan as I still have no idea how that steel box makes things ever so hot ever so quickly.
Once the wraps are warm, smear them liberally with hummus down the centre and begin layering lettuce and cucumber pieces. I try to keep everything as centred as possible so I have enough wrap on either side to, well, wrap. I also leave space on the bottom so it can be folded upward then wrapped to stop everything from falling out as I pick it up. Lastly pile in your scrummy lentil mixture, wrap and eat!
I am in love with lentils and their versatility! They are still my go-to on a rainy day, but their becoming a permanent fixture in my day-to-day diet. They do well for both hot and cold dishes and their packed with protein and all that other good stuff.
What are your favourite lentil dishes? Let me know!