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Lentils Ranchero (A Kid-Friendly Vegetarian Recipe)
- 14 oz. dry lentils
- 1 qt water
- 12 oz. Morningstar Farms vegetarian crumbles (or other similar product)
- 1 packet of dry onion soup mix
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 c ketchup or taco sauce
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 c water
Often, when we think of inviting our kids to cook with us, we only attempt simple recipes. However, there's nothing like a good fiddly recipe with lots of measuring to give our young children confidence in the kitchen. Lentils Ranchero is just such a recipe, involving lots of measuring, but only two steps that kids cannot do themselves. Plus, kids are much more willing to try something new if they've had a hand in making it!
Note: If you are not vegetarian, this recipe can also be made with ground beef, in which case you should brown the beef in a separate pan and drain it before mixing it with the seasonings and lentils. Baking instructions are the same.
1. Have your child put the dry lentils into a colander and rinse them clean. Tell him to pick out anything that doesn't look like a lentil, so you don't end up with any tiny rocks in your dinner.
2. Have your child carefully pour the clean lentils into a 3-quart saucepan. Then he can measure and add one quart of cold water to the pan.
3. Place the pan onto a stove burner at medium heat. Let the lentils cook for half an hour. You can stir them once in a while, but you don't really need to. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while you're there.
Let the kids measure the ingredients
4. Now comes the really fun measuring! First, have your child pour the whole bag of veggie crumble into a 9"x13" baking dish. Straight out of the freezer is fine! Let him add the packet of dry onion soup mix as well.
5. You'll need one cup of ketchup or taco sauce or a mixture thereof. (It depends on whether your family likes a little zip or not.) Your child can pour or squeeze the sauce into a 1-cup measure, and then scrape it with a spoon into the dish.
6. Next comes the apple cider vinegar, mustard, water, and pepper. Show your child how to measure both wet and dry ingredients so he can learn how to do it properly. He can dump each ingredient into the dish, in whatever order he grabs them. (They'll get mixed together, anyway.)
Stir it up!
7. With a big spoon, let your child mix together all the cold ingredients in the baking dish. Now's a good time for you to see what's happening on the stove.
Back at the stove . . .
8. The lentils should be just about done. Almost all of the liquid should have boiled away. Carefully pour the hot lentils into the baking dish and mix up well.
9. Put it into the oven at 400 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
10. Serve with crusty bread or white rice and a nice green salad. Your kids may enjoy eating it with tortilla chips or rolled up into a burrito. Have fun with it!