Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking time 1-1/2 hours
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil (or spray for the pan)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon of butter
3 cups onions
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup roasted tomatoes (or 1 cup diced canned)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
8 cups lentils (well cooked)
Black pepper (to taste)
Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly oil or oil-spray a shallow, 9 by 13 inch casserole dish or a large oval gratin pan.
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, then add the butter and let it melt into the oil. Stir in the onion and salt, and cook, covered, over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring often. The onions should be very soft and golden. Add the tomatoes, cover and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the sugar, vinegar, lentils and pepper, and stir well. Transfer to the prepared baking pan, cover tightly with foil, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until heated through.
Serve hot, topped with a scattering of sliced green olives, if desired.
Makes 6 servings.
Note: both the tomatoes and the lentils can be prepared ahead of time. For the tomatoes: Roast about 6 plum or 3 large beefsteak tomatoes; peel, seed and mince them, then measure out 1 cup to use in the dish. If you are short on time you can substitute the canned tomatoes.
For the lentils: To get 8 cups of cooked lentils for the recipe, begin with 4 cups dried. Red lentils cook more quickly and are a prettier color than the green or French varieties, but you can use any kind for this dish and it will come out fine. Rinse them well, place in a pot with 10 cups of water, bring to a boil, then simmer until very soft (20 minutes for red lentils; 30 to 40 minutes for green or French). After you measure the 8 cups needed for this recipe, you will probably have some left over. You can add the extra lentils to a vegetable soup, a salad or some cooked grains.
Serve the lentil dish with any kind of plain grain or pasta, or simply with bread and a salad.