I spent the past three weeks in Montreal and just got back home. Those few weeks were filled with lazy mornings, good coffee, laughter, shooting stars, firecamps and long hot summer days. I got to slow down and to spend some quality time with my friends and family. It feels good to be surrounded by the ones you love.
We’ve had some of the hottest days of the summer while I was there, and now that I’m back in the big city, it looks like summer is slowly fading away. The air has shifted and the days are getting shorter.
I already miss friends and family, but there’s nothing like being home and it feels good to be back.
I reunited with my kitchen, which feels amazing. Although I’m now slowly getting back into my routine, I’m not yet 100% full speed and I wanted something quick and easy for dinner. This recipe was exactly what I needed. This is a very simple vegetarian meal, that you can throw together in minutes. I serve it as a main dish but it would also make a great side.
This dish is perfect for those nights when you want something satisfying, healthy and delicious but feel a little lazy/don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.
It involves deliciously crispy green beans paired with tender lentils (I used brown lentils but you can make it with other types of lentils if you wish). The real highlight of the dish is this wonderful avocado cilantro sauce.
If you’ve never used avocados to make a sauce before, I’m happy to tell you that this might just be a revelation. The natural creaminess and the fairly neutral taste of the avocado makes it the perfect base to any dressing. This one is creamy, tangy and just a little sweet.
If you’re one of those people who can’t stand cilantro (I know many people can’t!), you can substitute it for fresh basil, it’s just as delicious. I’ve made this dish with both versions and they’re honestly equally tasty. Of couse the basil gives an overall sweeter, lighter flavour, while the cilantro brings its signature pungent notes. So feel free to experiment or go with your preference.
Green beans (sometimes called string beans or French beans) are one of America’s preferred vegetables, and they’re certainly a favorite in home gardens. Green beans are not only easy to grow, versatile and delicious, they are also packed with antioxidants and flavonoids, which together can improve heart health, help prevent cancer and diabetes, protect against harmful free radicals, reduce the risk of birth defects for pregnant women, and even reduce body fat and prevent obesity.
Green beans contain Vitamin C which helps fight infection, such as colds or flu; fiber, which keeps the digestive tract healthy; and certain specific carotenoids which can protect the eyes against macular degeneration. Green beans are low in calories but are packed with amazing healthy benefits!
To retain the most vitamins and minerals, I recommend steaming them for about 5 minutes. Steaming brings out their flavour, make them tender but still a little crispy, and retain their beautifully bright green color.
Notes on the recipe: I’ve added some toasted almonds for a nice little crunch, but I suspect that toasted hazelnuts or pecans would also be delicious here. Although soaking lentils is not essential, I recommend doing so as it will greatly aid digestion and will reduce cooking time. As for the sauce, feel free to substitute the cilantro for fresh basil for a lighter, sweeter version.
Green Beans & Lentils w/ Creamy Avocado Cilantro Sauce
- 3/4 cup lentils brown, green, du Puy, etc., ideally soaked overnight
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 4 cups green beans trimmed
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
Avocado Cilantro Sauce
- 1 large ripe avocado pitted
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1 small garlic clove
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 tsp unpasteurized honey
- Pinch sea salt
- Chili pepper flakes optional, to taste
Cook the lentils:
Place lentils in a strainer and rinse well under running water. Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with fresh water (water should reach about 2 inches above the lentils). Cover and bring to boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils and tender, about 15-20 minutes (try not to overcook them, you don't want them to be mushy). Strain and add sea salt.
Make the sauce:
Place the avocado, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, honey, sea salt and chili flakes in your food processor. Blend until creamy.
Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. If you like your sauce runnier, you can add 1 or 2 tbsp warm water and blend again.
Toast the almonds:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3-4 minutes, until slightly golden and fragrant.
Cook the green beans:
Place the green beans in a vegetable steamer and steam for about 5 minutes (do not overcook!). Strain and rinse under cold water to fix the color. (If you don't have a steamer, you can cook them in boiling water for 5-6 minutes).
Place the green beans on a service platter. Add the lentils. Pour the avocado cilantro sauce over and top with the toasted almonds.
Recipe NotesYou can substitute cilantro by some fresh basil, or the almonds by toasted hazelnuts, pecans or any other nut.
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