I love growing my own food and I’ve never let the fact that I live in a flat with no garden or balcony hold me back. In fact, normally my growing season goes something like this:
Dream up a list of extravagant things I can grow on my window sill.
Make my boyfriend lug a huge bag of organic compost across town to our flat.
Fill every surface in my flat with pots, troughs and window sill boxes.
Tend to my seedlings lovingly.
Get an invasion of tiny flies and or aphids.
Resist getting rid of my crops and live with an infestation of insects akin to a biblical plague.
End up with a handful of cherry tomatoes, half a salads worth of salad leaves and not enough basil to make pesto.
Sit back in the autumn and admire my success and resourcefulness…
Yeah, not so great.
So this year I’ve decided to start off at a slower pace and sprout some lentils.
I had never really considered sprouting lentils as growing my own food. I guess theres no soil involved which, on the plus side means no flies! But sprouting lentils at home is cheap and easy, requires very little equipment and even littler space. It’s definitely the easiest place to start when it comes to growing your own food.
Sprouted lentils are also really good for for you, having a higher vitamin content when sprouted and they are also more easily digestible. All you will need to sprout your own lentils is a glass jar, a piece of muslin, string or an elastic band, a sieve or fine colander and of course some lentils.
How to sprout lentils
I like to sprout 100g at a time as they should be eaten within a few days once they’re sprouted. I find that this gives me enough to make a main meal and have some left over to throw into a salad.
100g green lentils
- Thoroughly rinse the lentils through a sieve and pick out any stones.
- Place the lentils in a clean glass jar and cover with water (preferably filtered) by a least double.
- Cover with a piece of muslin, leave for around 24 hours out of direct sunlight, then drain off the water and rinse them again. Place them back in the jar and cover.
- Rinse them twice daily for around 2-3 days until tender pale shoots appear.
- Once the shoots are 1cm or so long, place the jar into the fridge and use within a few days. Remember to keep rinsing the lentils daily once stored in the fridge.
Its amazing how such a small amount increases to a full jar of sprouted lentils in just a few days. You can see mine have just started to go green at the ends which probably means I should have got them into the fridge about half a day earlier than I did. Not to worry as they will still taste great either cooked or raw.
I think they make a great addition to a salad when raw, packing a tasty, crunchy protein rich punch. They are also great when cooked and one of my favourite ways to use them is a stir-fry.
Sprouted lentil stir-fry
100g brown rice (or you could use noodles if you prefer)
100g sprouted lentils (roughly half of the jar you sprouted)
4-6 chestnut mushrooms
A mixture of seasonal veg. I used:
- 1 medium carrot
- Half a leek
- Spring greens
2cm piece of ginger
2 cloves garlic
Small bunch of coriander
Juice of half a lime
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice mirin
1 tsp coconut oil
- Cook the brown rice as per your packet’s instructions, usually for around 40mins.
- Whilst your rice is cooking prepare your seasonal veg. I like my carrots thinly sliced, my leeks roughly chopped and my spring greens finely shredded.
- Crush your garlic and finely chop up your garlic.
- About 15 mins before your rice is ready, heat up a wok or large frying pan to a high heat. Add your cashews to the pan and dry fry them until they start to brown, stirring regularly to make sure they don’t burn.
- Whilst toasting the cashews, in a separate pan start to fry the mushrooms in a little oil on a medium-high heat until the water has reduced away and they begin to brown.
- Once the cashews are nicely toasted, place in a bowl and set aside.
- Add the coconut oil to the wok and add in the carrot and leek.
- Stir vigorously to prevent sticking for 2-3mins, adding the mirin and 1 tbsp soy sauce. If the vegetables are starting to catch on the bottom of the pan just add a few splashes of water and this will create some nice steam to help them cook whilst preventing burning.
- Add the garlic, ginger, spring greens, and sprouted lentils to the wok, mix through and then add another 1 tbsp soy sauce.
- You only want the vegetables just cooked so once I’ve added everything in I serve up the rice and then return to the wok adding the lime juice, cashews and roughly chopped coriander.
- Stir everything together once more and pour onto the rice immediately and spoon over the fried mushrooms.
- Serve with an extra slice of lime and a drizzle of sesame oil if you fancy.