I like heat (on my tongue heat, not Texas summer heat), and I like olives, therefore, my lentil picadillo had to have both of those added to it in the form of cayenne pepper and Spanish green olives. Other than that, I don't think I changed much else from the original adaptation, other than lessening the amount of dried thyme and adding a little more liquid...
This is a great weeknight meal that comes together very quickly if you have a whole grain already cooked and ready to go in the freezer. For us last night, that happened to be brown rice, but you could pair this with any other whole grain...I'm sure quinoa would be great.
I used French green lentils instead of the standard brown or green, because I like that their texture holds up well after cooking.
Lentil Picadillo with Mango:
(Adapted from Eats Well with Others...who adapted a recipe for meaty picadillo from Simply Recipes)
1.5 cups French green lentils
~1 tsp kosher salt
one red onion, sliced very thinly, vertically.
~1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano (I like to use Greek oregano...not as pungent as the Mexican)
a pinch of dried thyme
cayenne pepper to taste, optional (I used about 1/2 tsp)
1 cup chunky tomato-based salsa
a good handful of pimento stuffed Spanish olives, halved
1 large mango or 2 small mangoes, peeled pitted and cubed (or if you have a MONSTER of a mango like I did, 1/2 of that!)
2 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted
2 tbsp cilantro leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Sort your lentils and wash them thoroughly.
Add lentils to a 3qt. saucepan and cover with at least 2 inches of filtered water.
Heat on high until water starts to boil, then add about 1 tsp kosher salt and reduce to a simmer, cooking uncovered for about 20 minutes.
Remove pot from heat, cover and let sit for another 5 minutes.
Drain lentils, but reserve some of the cooking water...about a cups worth.
While the lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
Salt them lightly and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft and golden.
Add garlic, and spices through cayenne pepper, if using.
Cook another 2 minutes then add cooked lentils, salsa, olives, diced mango, and about 1/2 cup+ of reserved lentil cooking water.
Simmer until these last additions are heated through, then remove from heat.
Check for seasoning...adding salt and black pepper as needed.
Serve atop cooked grain of your choice, or even a bed of spinach, then garnish with cilantro and toasted almonds. We also topped with some chopped avocado.