Easy Chicken and Red Lentils

Easy Chicken and Red Lentils

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This easy chicken and red lentils is so quick, so simple, and so delicious. You only need a handful of ingredients for a satisfying and shockingly easy dinner.

I’ve been making it a goal to cook through many of my pantry items before I restock. I have a very bad habit of stocking up on every type of grain and legume, using half of it, and then forgetting about it in my pantry. Since my one cabinet has been overflowing with half-used bags and boxes, I’ve decided to cook through them before I buy more.

For some reason, the most innocuous half-used bag of red lentils has been burning a hole in my pocket. I kept thinking I wanted to use them, but for what? I thought about whipping up sweet and spicy red lentils or throwing together my red lentil meatballs.

Since I already had ground chicken unthawed, I decided to pair the red lentils with chicken. I had lots of herbs in my fridge, like dill, parsley, and fresh oregano. A simple stewy situation immediately came to mind.

I have made this chicken and red lentils recipe multiple times since I first concocted it, and it is immediately going into our regular rotation. What I love most is how the lentils break down and act as a thick sauce for the ground chicken. Of course, you can use shredded rotisserie chicken, and that would also be delicious.

chicken red lentil stew

How to make this easy chicken and red lentils recipe

As I mentioned, this recipe comes together in a jiffy, and most of the time is spent letting the lentils simmer on the stovetop.

What you need

  • Ground chicken: You can replace this with shredded rotisserie chicken, small-diced thighs, or chicken breasts. If using raw thighs or breasts, you’ll just need to adjust the cooking time. If using shredded rotisserie, skip the first step of browning the chicken.
  • Seasonings: I season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and a pinch of crushed red pepper.
  • Red lentils: Red lentils cook quickly and break down nicely for a thick, stew-like consistency. You can also use brown lentils. Avoid beluga lentils or French green lentils.
  • Veggie stock: I have also made this with water, and it turns out just fine! Use what you have and what you prefer.
  • Yogurt topping: You need full-fat Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Use a large lemon, as half of it will go into the yogurt, and half of it will go into the stew. The lemon should be large enough to yield about 4 tablespoons of juice.
  • Fresh herbs: I use a blend of freshly minced parsley, dill, and oregano. If you don’t have oregano, use a bit more parsley or dill. I recommend keeping the oregano at about 2 tablespoons; otherwise, it can overpower the stew. The parsley and dill are more forgiving if you want to add extra of them to the stew.
  • Finishing touch: I finish with dukkah from Villa Jerada, but this is optional. Dukkah originated in Egypt but is used widely throughout the Levant. It’s often used on bread or stirred into dips and dressings. It’s extremely versatile, so it can be stirred into soups and stews, used as a garnish on salads, or applied to meat or fish to create a beautiful, flavorful crust. It’s a fragrant mixture that often contains toasted nuts, sesame seeds, coriander, and cumin. If you don’t have dukkah, you can finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, crushed pistachios, or almond slivers instead.

How to make it

  • Step 1: Brown the chicken. Cook the chicken in a little olive oil and season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and a pinch of crushed red pepper.
  • Step 2: Cook the aromatics and lentils. Remove the chicken from the pot and add the onion. Sauté until translucent. Add the red lentils and cook them briefly.
chicken red lentils
  • Step 3: Simmer the chicken and red lentils. Pour in the water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Return the chicken and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 25 minutes, uncovered, until the lentils break down and become very tender. Be sure to taste and season periodically as it cooks.
lemon greek yogurt
  • Step 4: Make the yogurt topping. As the stew simmers, combine Greek yogurt with lemon juice and a bit of zest. Whisk until smooth and season with salt.
  • Step 5: Finish the stew. Once the lentils are tender, finish with the herbs, remaining lemon juice, and a little drizzle of olive oil. I add the extra virgin olive oil for flavor and a bit of extra fat since this meal is relatively lean. You can skip adding the extra glug of olive oil at the end if you prefer!
easy chicken recipe

From there, you’re ready to serve it up! Spoon the chicken and red lentils into shallow bowls and add a dollop of Greek yogurt to each bowl. Finish with a sprinkle of fresh oregano leaves and more dill sprigs if you like, and give each bowl a dusting of dukkah for a truly delicious finishing touch.

stewed chicken and lentils

Easy Chicken and Red Lentils

This easy chicken and red lentils is so quick, so easy, and so delicious. You only need a handful of ingredients for a satisfying and shockingly simple dinner.
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Inactive time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup red lentils rinsed and picked over
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 large lemon; you need about 4 tablespoons of juice in total
  • ½ cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup loosely packed dill, minced; a few dill sprigs reserved for garnish
  • ¼ cup loosely packed parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced oregano leaves; a few leaves reserved for garnish
  • Salt and pepper

For serving:

  • Dukkah optional
  • Flatbread or whole-grain wraps; lightly toasted

Instructions

Brown the chicken:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 12–15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic powder, paprika, and crushed red pepper. Cook for 1–2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Cook the onion:

  • Add the onion to the pot and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the red lentils and cook for 1–2 minutes.

Simmer the lentils:

  • Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the pot. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes until the lentils are tender. The broth will thicken as the lentils break down. Taste and add salt and pepper.

Make the yogurt:

  • Use a microplane to grate off 1 teaspoon of lemon zest into a small bowl. Juice half the lemon into the bowl and set the other half aside. You should have about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in the bowl of zest.
  • Add the Greek yogurt to the bowl of juice and zest. Whisk until smooth. Add a pinch of salt and refrigerate until needed.

Finish the chicken:

  • Once the lentils are tender and broken down, taste the stew and add salt and pepper if needed. Add the dill, parsley, and oregano to the pot. Juice the remaining half of the lemon into the stew and add the remaining 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Taste and season. Simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

To serve:

  • Spoon the chicken and red lentils into shallow bowls. Spoon the yogurt on top and garnish with the remaining fresh dill sprigs and oregano leaves. Sprinkle dukkah on top if you like. Serve with warm flatbread or your favorite whole-grain wrap for dipping. Enjoy!
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