Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? This version is fancied up with some lentils and veggies for a more complete version of a childhood favorite.

Who doesn't love mac and cheese? This version is fancied up with some lentils and veggies for a more complete version of a childhood favorite.

When it comes to macaroni and cheese, I usually gravitate towards the baked variety. Don’t get me wrong, a box of Kraft or Annie’s is pretty much always in our pantry for those desperate nights… but when I REALLY want mac and cheese, this is what I’m talking about. Ben and I can make our way through a pan of that stuff in just a few days… it’s crazy good. And now that #BabyVolde is eating more and more of my regular cooking, heaven help us. When I made that mac and cheese a few weeks ago, he gobbled it up.

Sunday dinner… baked mac & cheese with roasted broccoli. All of us loved it (especially #BabyVolde)! 🧀

A post shared by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

While that mac and cheese will always always always be my favorite, sometimes I want mac and cheese… but with a little less cheese and a little more nutrition. Yeahhh… especially since I have a pretty non-picky-baby eater right now and I want to keep it that way. So that’s when I bring in Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese. You still have your cheese and pasta… but with a little extra protein (helllllllooooo lentils) and some extra veggie power. I won’t say the lentils and veggies aren’t noticeable, but they do make this dish a bit heartier and a little healthier. I can’t wait to make it again soon–it’s absolutely delicious!

Who doesn't love mac and cheese? This version is fancied up with some lentils and veggies for a more complete version of a childhood favorite.

One last thing before I go… I did make this recipe into a baked mac and cheese cause that’s my favorite. #crispynoodlesforlife But if that’s not your thing, or you’re in a time crunch, you can omit the panko topping and the baking step, no problemo! Enjoy!

one year ago: Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Bars
two years ago: Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart
three years ago: Oatmeal Fudge Bars
four years ago: Neely’s Lemon Pasta Salad
five years ago: Pineapple-Apricot Teriyaki Chicken
six years ago: Sweet and Tangy Pork Chops with Pineapple over Coconut Toasted Rice

Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 45 minutes
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slightly adapted from The Lean Green Bean

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces dry pasta
  • 3/4 cup lentils
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cups mixed vegetables, diced – can be fresh or frozen, or a combination
  • 5 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted – or 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large baking dish – 9×13 inches or similar and set aside.

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Prepare lentils according to package directions.

While pasta and lentils are cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant, then stir in mixed vegetables and spinach. Saute for 5-10 minutes until softened – less for frozen vegetables and more for fresh. Sprinkle with flour, paprika, and cayenne, then stir to coat. Add milk and cheese, stirring until well combined.

Carefully fold in pasta and lentils, then transfer mixture into greased baking dish.

In a small bowl, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the microwave. Toss with panko, then sprinkle panko mixture over the macaroni mixture.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly. Enjoy!

Note: If baked pasta isn’t your thing or you’re in a time crunch, just omit the panko and baking steps. It’ll be just fine without it. 🙂

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Curried Lentil Soup

Easy and flavorful red lentil soup…this curried red lentil soup is simply the best!

I already showed you the soup along with this fabulous hearty Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread… and now here’s the recipe! This Curried Lentil Soup is also fabulous. Why would I share anything less than fabulous? Ha! Lentil soup is always a go-to vegetarian soup because it’s filling and flavorful without meat. This time, we’ve taken a regular ‘ole lentil soup and added red lentils and a south Asian flavor profile to  make something extra special.

Easy and flavorful red lentil soup...this curried red lentil soup is simply the best!

If you’re a fan of dal, you’ll like the soup. The flavors are incredible–garlic, ginger, onion…and of course, curry! There’s nothing better on a cold night, especially when served with some hearty bread. Mmm! The fact that this soup is made in about 30 minutes, thanks to the magic of the microwave [Iiiiiiii know–I never use the microwave in cooking, but it’s magic here], is an added bonus. Perfect for busy weeknights! Hope you guys enjoy!

two years ago: Honey Cornbread
three years ago: Sweet ‘n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw
four years ago: Peach Raspberry Clafouti
five years ago: Peach Shortbread
six years ago: Tropical Granola

Curried Lentil Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

from Jenna’s Everything Blog

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 8 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 – 15 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cilantro, chopped
  • plain yogurt

Directions:

In a large bowl, microwave lentils and half of the broth for 10-12 minutes, until liquid is mostly absorbed

In a stockpot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion for 5-7 minutes, until soft and translucent. Season with pepper to taste, then add garlic, ginger, and curry powder. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.

Add the microwaved lentil mixture to the pot, then add the remaining broth and tomatoes. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, seasoning with pepper as desired.

Serve with cilantro and plain yogurt.

 

#HotSummerEats: Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad, Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas, and Some Reviews!

Today is the last day of #HotSummerEats! And because Ben and I spent the day painting our kitchen instead of blogging, I didn’t get part of this post up for Sunday like I planned. So to celebrate Monday, I have not just one but TWO recipes for you, plus reviews of other products from our wonderful #HotSummerEats sponsors. Ready? Let’s go!

Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad for #HotSummerEats | thepajamachef.com

Inside door number one we have this fabulous lentil and couscous salad! I love having recipes like this on hand to make that I can grab out of the fridge for lunches at work all week long. It’s truthfully been awhile since I’ve cooked couscous and when I first tasted this salad yesterday I wondered why the hiatus? Israeli couscous is so good!! It’s almost pasta, but not quite, so it pairs so well with lentils and any other veggies you want to throw in. This time, I used red and yellow bell peppers and some sun-dried tomatoes. Normally when I make salads like this, I make a vinaigrette as the sauce, but this time I took the easy way out and used this Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from Out of the Weeds. You can WIN this in our #HotSummerEats giveaway, but you gotta act fast since it ends today! I don’t usually buy salad dressings because vinaigrettes are super easy to make, but sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the work for you… especially when they use normal ingredients that you’d find in your pantry too! This vinaigrette is so fresh and adds a fun, light tomato flair to my lentil and couscous salad. If you can’t get this vinaigrette locally [or can’t wait until your online order arrives], you can use your favorite vinaigrette instead. 🙂 I’m so glad I got to try this Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette! It’s flavorful, fresh, and perfect for anything from salads to meat marinades. Amazing!

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas for #HotSummerEats | thepajamachef.com

The next recipe I have to share with you involves black beans, barbecue sauce, and cheese. Now, that combo might seem a little weird. I mean… black beans and cheese I get, but barbecue sauce and black beans? Barbecue sauce and cheese? Just try it! It’s so good! But first the back story. Whenever I get home late from work or Bible study or anywhere really and need some dinner, quesadillas are my go-to… one of two kinds. Banana, peanut butter, and chocolate [arguably NOT the healthiest choice, I know… but delicious!] or black beans and cheese. I always have those ingredients on hand so it’s easy, filling, and delicious. Usually to season my bean and cheese quesadilla, I turn to salsa or taco seasoning. But since I live in Nashville and see people put barbecue sauce on anything and everything, I wondered how it would taste on beans. Like baked beans, kinda. Even though I don’t like baked beans…

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas for #HotSummerEats | thepajamachef.com

I received Southern Gold Barbecue Sauce from Voodoo Chef for #HotSummerEats and decided to try it out on a recent weeknight. Man! The barbecue sauce/black bean combo is great! It’s just like chicken, except not. Haha, I’m so eloquent right now. But really, this barbecue sauce is wonderful. It’s mustard based–sweet and tangy, with just a pinch of heat. I could eat that stuff by the spoonful, it’s that good. Just like I said with the vinaigrette, you SHOULD get it [or win it I hope!] but if you can’t feel free to sub regular barbecue sauce + mustard to make this quesadilla. This combo is where it’s at! 🙂

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.comMan, I’ve already shared two great recipes. But now I have a few product reviews for you so keep on reading. 🙂 I got to try Caribeque‘s Island Thyme spice rub. Ben was cooking the night we tried it, and he rubbed it on a pork tenderloin, then added some olive oil and panko bread crumbs and baked it until it was cooked through. WOW was this good! Seriously the best pork I’ve ever had. If it wasn’t raining I would have gotten some better pictures.

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.com

The Island Thyme was tangy and full of lots of herbs. It had a little kick but not too much… made me feel like I was at a Caribbean restaurant instead of my own kitchen. 🙂 I think it would also be wonderful on some roasted veggies. 🙂 We enjoyed some dill and butter green beans and some sweet potato fries with the pork. I dipped my sweet potato fries in my new favorite ketchup… Chai Curry Chup by Intensity Academy. I know chai seasoning + ketchup + curry sounds weird, but it’s a totally addictive blend of sweet and hot and normal ketchup. It’s very hard to describe but it’s the best thing ever. Seriously the best product I tried as part of #HotSummerEats. Everything was good but this was phenomenal! On burger night a few weeks ago, I mixed the Chai Curry Chup with mayo as a burger topping and that was great too.

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.com

Last but not least I want to tell you about the unique line of salad dressings from T.Lish. So far I have only sampled one of the three I was sent, and I want to eat salad for every meal just to enjoy the sweet garlic dressing!

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.com

This dressing tastes like something I’d make in my own kitchen–no preservatives, nothing fake. It’s just a really good salad dressing made with quality ingredients. Some of the other #HotSummerEats bloggers have used these dressings for pasta salad or marinades–find all the recipes here! I have plans to use the Asian Sesame in stir fry but it just hasn’t happened yet. Will report back when it does! 🙂 My only complaint with this salad dressing is that it makes a mess when pouring it. Maybe we just got a bad bottle, but it did spill down the side quite a bit. That happens with my own dressings too, so no worries!

If you made it this far, you deserve a reward… so here are the recipes! 🙂 🙂 Ha! Enjoy! Thanks for reading along with #HotSummerEats and thanks to Camilla for organizing and hosting this great event. Most of all, thank you to all our sponsors! You have helped make the event spicy, flavorful, and fun! I always LOVE getting to try new foods and finding new companies to support [and enjoy]. Hope you enjoyed it as well and be sure to enter the giveaway now!

Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 1/2 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers, diced small
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced small [drained if water/oil packed]
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped [I used dill, rosemary, and lemon thyme]
  • 1/3 cup Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from Out of the Weeds [or another salad dressing of choice, or a mixture of pureed tomatoes, oil, vinegar, and herbs]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, then add lentils and cook for 10 minutes. Add couscous and cook another 10 minutes or so, until lentils are cooked through–soft but not mushy, and couscous is cooked to al dente. Drain lentils and couscous and place in a medium bowl. Toss with peppers, tomatoes, and herbs. Drizzle vinaigrette over top, tossing until combined. Season with pepper and serve with Parmesan.

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1/4 cup bell peppers, diced small
  • 1/4 cup Southern Gold Barbecue Sauce from Voodoo Chef [or 2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue sauce + 1 tablespoon of your favorite mustard]

Directions:

Heat a large skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter, then place one tortilla on the pan. Add half the cheese and allow to melt.

In a small bowl, stir together black beans, bell peppers, and barbecue sauce. Heat until warm in the microwave, about 45 seconds. Add half of mixture on top of cheese–just one side of the tortilla for easy folding.

When cheese has melted and tortilla is crispy to your liking, fold and transfer to plate. Repeat with additional ingredients, then serve, sliced, with additional barbecue sauce for dipping.

Check out other #HotSummerEats recipes at the link below:

Disclaimer: Thank you to Caribeque, Intensity Academy, Out of the Weeds, T.Lish, and Voodoo Chef for providing samples and product to use for#HotSummerEats recipes without additional compensation. I was not asked to provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. Please check out Caribeque on Facebook here or here, Twitter, and Instagram here and here to learn more. Please check out Intensity Academy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out Out of the Weeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out T.Lish on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out Voodoo Chef on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.

Mujaddara: Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw

Lentils are the new black beans. 🙂 This easy vegetarian meal is our new staple weeknight dinner! The carrot slaw elevates the classic Mujaddara dish into something extra special.

Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw | thepajamachef.com

I used to not know what to do with lentils. They seemed mushy and weird. But then Ben and I started frequenting this fabulous Turkish restaurant in Indiana and I fell in love with their red lentil soup. So I bought lentils to recreate it at home… and they sat in my pantry for like two years. And moved to Nashville with us. Once here, I started making red lentil soup, but that’s all I did with lentils. Until I found this recipe in an old issue of Food Network Magazine. [True story.] Though the recipe didn’t say this was Mujaddara, aka the beans and rice of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and beyond, it clearly is. 

Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw | thepajamachef.comI had a hard time making lentils and rice look pretty but there you have it. Since the fall, we’ve had this for dinner almost every other week and it’s so simple I can practically make it in my sleep! Since I can’t leave recipes alone, I have simplified the dish a weeee little bit from the original. Namely, the traditional dish calls for caramelizing the onions. I’m sure that’s great, but for a quick weeknight dinner? Not gonna happen, sorry. The traditional dish also serves the onions on top of the lentils and rice. But there’s no way Ben would like that, so I just dice ’em up like usual and saute them until they’re really soft and call it a day. Or a night. Or a dinner, whatever. I’ve also noted this in the recipe itself but you can use ANY rice and ANY lentils to make this fabulous meal. My most used combo is brown lentils with jasmine rice, but any combo will do. Just know that the amount of time it takes to prepare this dish is related to what type of rice and lentils you choose. Red lentils are quick, brown rice is slow, etc. And don’t forget the carrot slaw. It’s tangy and earthy and uses just three ingredients to make its magic! Carrots, lemon juice, and cumin. You can season with salt and pepper too. It’s divine! I really should always make a double batch of this stuff because Ben and I are ADDICTED to it, and I usually make more later in the week for leftovers. The contrast of the hearty lentil and rice mixture with the fresh slaw and yogurt is just fabulous. Enjoy!

one year ago: Apple Rubies in Coconut Milk
two years ago: Double Blueberry Walnut Muffins
three years ago: Quinoa Pancakes
four years ago: Lemon Blueberry Bread

Mediterranean Lentils and Rice with Carrot Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Print

from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rice – I’ve used basmati, jasmine, brown, and white so use what you like/what you have!
  • 3 cups water or broth
  • 3 cups shredded carrots – about 6 medium carrots
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons cumin, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup lentils – any kind you like… red, green, or brown
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • freshly ground black pepper + salt
  • plain greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving [or tzatziki!]
  • fresh cilantro, for serving

Directions:

Begin by preparing rice according to package directions.

In a medium bowl, combine carrots, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and a little freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 6-7 minutes. Stir often and when almost done, add garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, and remaining cumin and cook until fragrant. Add lentils and water/broth to the pan and stir well to combine. Raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, and allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until lentils are tender. When rice and lentils are done, add rice to the lentil pan and stir to combine.

Serve rice and lentils topped with carrot slaw, yogurt, and cilantro.

Tasty Mexican Lentils

These lentils have no business being this good. No business at all. I mean, lentils aren’t exactly exciting food, now are they? Well, I think these lentils are. I seriously can’t get enough of them. I can’t remember where I saw this recipe linked originally, but I am so glad I did because they have become a new family favorite. Healthy, versatile, good, simple, delicious.

Tasty Mexican Lentils | thepajamachef.com

These lentils definitely support their “tasty” title. They are smooth and flavorful, a perfect vegetarian Mexican meal. You can make burritos or tacos or burrito bowls or nachos with them, or eat them by the spoonful. [Oh wait–that might just be what I do!] They’re a little reminiscent of pinto beans [maybe refried beans] texture-wise, but flavor-wise they are absolutely incredible!

Tasty Mexican Lentils | thepajamachef.com

In the recipe below, I suggest using red lentils. Brown or green lentils can certainly use used instead, but the cooking time may be different. Red lentils are just my fave–according to The Kitchn they are sweet and nutty. They also cook super fast, making these lentils a great weeknight dinner. I hope you give ’em a try soon! P.S. Don’t skip the avocado or guac as a topping–avocado + lentils=looove!

Tasty Mexican Lentils | thepajamachef.com

Oh–before I forget! Ben loved this dinner too. He was a bit skeptical [tacos without meat?!?!] but was soon won over. I bet he’d even eat them on his birthday…which just so happens to be today! Yup, that’s right. He’s a St. Paddy’s Day baby. 🙂 Cake recipe coming soooooon. It was so good. 🙂 Happy Birthday to my love!

one year ago: Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream
two years ago: Alice’s Vanilla Tea-Infused Granola
three years ago: Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup

Tasty Mexican Lentils

from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2/3 cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 2/3 cup chicken broth [or vegetable broth]
  • 2/3 cup salsa
  • tortillas or rice, for serving
  • lettuce, tomato, guacamole, avocado, sour cream, cheese, etc. for serving

Directions:

Heat oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lentils and taco seasoning and cook for one minute.

Pour chicken broth into lentil mixture, then bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmering until lentils are tender [about 12-15 minutes].

Stir in salsa and heat uncovered, mashing slightly, until thickened [about 3-5 minutes].

Serve lentils in tortillas or over rice with desired toppings.

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