Lentils are, seriously, the vegetarian equivalent of ground beef. Not in that they are a vector for foodborne illness, but that they are fast, filling, and easy to work with. This I threw together between arriving home from work and a 7:30 concert on Friday night. We had it over whole-wheat penne. The concert was Robin & Linda Williams and Their Fine Group – and they were terrific.
olive oil for the pan
1 large onion, cut in slivers
1 bunch celery (yep, I love celery) cut in julienne (thin little sticks – cut the biggest stalks in five or six pieces lengthwise, then cut in 2 to 3 in. lengths
salt and pepper
1 1/2 c. black or green lentils (Puy lentils)
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick pan over very high medium-high heat. When it is hot, in with the onions. Sauté them for a few minutes, until they begin to wilt just a little, then add the celery. Increase the heat to pretty darn high, and stir-fry, basically, until the moisture from the celery and onions has largely evaporated and they’ve picked up some nice brown spots. This will probably take 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I cooked my lentils in salted water in the pressure cooker for 5 minutes, then removed them from the heat and allowed the pressure to drop by itself. I started them as I was starting to chop, and they were ready to be opened by the time the celery was done. Drain the lentils and season with salt (if necessary) and pepper, plus a good slug of olive oil.
To serve, place pasta on each plate, top with lentils, then the celery.