If you need a delicious, healthy, inexpensive dish, this lentils with potatoes recipe is here for the win!
This one has quickly become a favorite in my house.
Not only is this dish healthy, it's also delicious, inexpensive, flexible and easy to make. I mean, what else could be better?!
I make this dish often to have for healthy mid-week lunches, and recently discovered it was the only thing that sounded good when I was sick last week.
Lentils are loaded with protein, fiber, good carbs, and plant nutrients. They're also filling and simple to prepare—you don't need to soak them beforehand so you can make this when you think about it.
This lentils with potatoes recipe is similar to my easy lentil soup, but instead of a soup I leave the lentils whole. You can add 3 extra cups of liquid (either water or stock) to this dish and puree part or all of it to make soup, too, if you're looking for soup as opposed to whole lentils (see, I told you it was flexible!).
You can also use any type of lentil here that you like. I usually prefer green lentils but I was out, so I used these black lentils instead, and I really love how it turned out.
Lentils with Potatoes Ingredient Notes
Choosing Your Lentils
Black Lentils - Sometimes called Beluga lentils, black lentils are smaller and firmer than green lentils. Since they're smaller, use ¾ of a cup of black lentils if a recipe calls for 1 cup green or black lentils. Their small, firm texture is great here—I'm loving it in this dish with potatoes. Plus, they're much prettier than other lentils, which basically turn to (delicious) mush when cooked.
Green Lentils - A staple in cuisine around the world, green lentils are always a safe bet for me. They turn out right in the middle of soft and firm and go with everything. I typically use green lentils when I make lentil soup or apple cider lentil salad.
Red Lentils - Red lentils are quite soft and make for a wonderful soup. You can use them here if it's the only thing you have on hand, just know that they are much softer than black lentils when cooked so it won't look quite like the photo. However, they're still full of nutrition and taste great.
Something I love about this dish is that it's filling and super inexpensive. Adding just 1 medium potato adds great texture and nutrition to this dish. Some people think potatoes are unhealthy, but that's not true! It's usually how people prepare them (e.g. fried) that makes them unhealthy. Potatoes are loaded with potassium, vitamin C, and other plant nutrients. Leave the skin on to boost the fiber and nutrition of this dish. I like to use a Yukon gold here because the skin has a soft texture, but you can also use a sweet potato or any potatoes of your choice here. I used one medium or two small potatoes for a good ratio in this dish.
Onion, Celery & Carrot
Known as “mirepoix” in French cooking, onion, celery and carrot add wonderful flavor and extra nutrition to this dish. I saute them in extra virgin olive oil for 5-7 minutes until they're nice and soft and sweet. I also add my bay leaf at this point, as cooking the bay leaf in the warm olive oil adds even more flavor to the dish. I generally use a yellow onion, but a white onion—or even red onion—would be great here. Use what you have on hand.
Stock, Broth or Water
You'll want 4 cups of liquid total here, just work with what you have. Chicken stock or veggie stock are both wonderful here as they add extra flavor, but water works if you don't have any stock on hand. Broth is a longer simmered stock. Chicken broth (aka bone broth) will have more protein as it's simmered longer with bones and is great here if you have it on hand. I generally use a box of low-sodium chicken stock or veggie stock from the store when making lentils. Adjust your salt at the end depending on what type of stock you use.
Spices for Flavor
Fresh garlic is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Plus, it adds wonderful flavor to this dish. Fresh garlic that you press or finely chop is always best.
I almost always use cumin as my extra flavor in lentils. If you don't have cumin or prefer something else, Italian seasoning also works great. The end flavor will be different but still delicious. Choose any type of spice to change up this recipe. ½ teaspoon of cumin or Italian seasoning or even curry powder would be great here. Use what you like or have on hand.
Lentils and potatoes will both absorb any flavor that you put in the dish. Neither have any flavor, so remember to add a decent amount of sea salt at the beginning of the simmer so the lentils and potatoes can absorb the salty liquid (it will taste different if you only salt at the end). Adjust your salt based on your liquid. If you use water, you'll want to add up to 2 teaspoons of sea salt at the beginning of the simmer. If you use low-sodium stock, use ¾-1 teaspoon of sea salt. If you use regular stock that is already salted, use ½ teaspoon and adjust at the end.
This Easy Healthy Lentils with Potatoes Recipe is delicious, inexpensive, and easy to make. If you enjoy it, leave a star rating and comment below to share with other readers in our community.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ white or yellow onion, finely chopped (use ¼ of an onion if the onion is extra large)
1 carrot, diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 stalk celery, diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 bay leaf
1 medium Yukon gold potato (OR sweet potato if you prefer)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, pressed or grated
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ cup black lentils (OR, 1 cup green or red lentils)
4 cups liquid (I used low-sodium chicken stock)
¾ teaspoon sea salt (more or less to taste depending on your liquid)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a 4- or 5-quart dutch oven or pot, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf and a big pinch of sea salt. Saute 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until the veggies are soft.
Turn the heat to low. Add the finely chopped or pressed garlic and cumin (or seasoning of your choice). Cook over low heat for about 2-minutes, stirring frequently until the garlic and spices are very fragrant.
Add the chopped potatoes, lentils, 4 cups of liquid, ¾ teaspoon sea salt (less if using salted stock) and a few turns of freshly cracked black pepper. Bring to a boil (takes about 4-5 minutes), then cover and reduce to a simmer (the low setting on my stove).
Cook for 30-45 minutes until the lentils are soft and the liquid is absorbed. This takes about 35 minutes for green or red lentils, and 45 minutes for black lentils. The pot should be at a gentle rolling simmer. There may be a little liquid left in the pot, just leave it here and the lentils will continue to expand. Watch it carefully towards the end as all of the liquid may evaporate depending on your climate.
Let cool slightly before enjoying. Keeps in the fridge in a covered container up to 5 days. Freezes well up to 3 months.
To turn this recipe into a soup, use a 6-quart pot. Add an additional ½ teaspoon of whatever seasoning you use (cumin, Italian seasoning, etc.), and add 3 more cups of liquid (stock or water) when you add the liquid. If using plain water, also add an additional teaspoon of sea salt. If using stock, add an additional ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Simmer 45-60 minutes, then puree half or all of the soup depending on what texture you prefer. Adjust the seasoning at the end.