Of all the typical meals in Ecuador, arroz con menestra is surely the most widespread in all regions of the country. You will literally find it on every street corner! It is either made with red beans or lentils, and it is served with rice (arroz), a very thinly grilled meat scallop (usually chicken, beef or pork) patacones (fried green plantain) and a little bit of salad. Of both, the lentils are my favorite and they are actually simpler to use because they don’t need any soaking time.
What I realized recently is it is a really cheap meal but also, very healthy because lentils are high in fibres and proteins, complex carbohydrates, while low in fat and calories. Plus, it’s a super easy to make, brainless recipe! Some people will add plantain in the mix to get a thicker/creamier version but I prefer this lighter version.
↠ Ingredients ↞
A drizzle of olive oil
1 medium size red onion
1 green bell pepper
5 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoon of cumin
4 tablespoons of cilantro
2 cups of brown dry lentils
6 cups of water
↠ How to ↞
Dice the onion, green bell pepper and tomatoes the size of the lentils (finely). Heat a pan over medium high, add a drizzle of olive oil and soften the onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic , cumin and half of cilantro (this first step & combination of ingredients is called ”refrito” in spanish, and is used as a flavor base for many Latin American dishes). Season with salt and pepper, add lentils and water. Increase the fire to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce the fire and let simmer 45 minutes to 1h (if the mix is getting to dry, add water). Add the 2 remaining tablespoons of cilantro and serve with rice and a simple salad seasoned with salt and lime!
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