recipe: barbecue baked lentils, minus the grill

bbq lentils with riceTHE HOUSE SMELLED SUMMERY yesterday. No; I didn’t bring home some flowering, fragrant tropical beauty from the garden center. I made an ovenproof dish full of “barbecued” lentils. If cheap, easy, good for you and full of flavor sounds like the right ingredients, read on for the recipe.

These may remind you of my popular vegetarian baked heirloom beans, but lentils cook much more quickly, and I don’t use molasses or the same spices in these as I do in the beans. That said, you could alternate either flavor with either “pulse,” and simply vary the cooking time.

bbq lentilsbarbecue lentils, minus the grill


  • 1¾ cups lentils, rinsed (I use the basic greenish kind; black “caviar” ones are fine, too)
  • Water to cover the lentils to twice their depth (about 4 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup ketchup (or tomato paste and water mixed to equivalent consistency and volume)
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste


Rinse lentils and put in pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes, but before they get mushy!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Meantime, chop and sauté onion and garlic in olive oil.

Drain lentils, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid.

Put lentils in an oven-proof covered dish (Dutch oven or Pyrex type), and add reserved liquid, plus all the other ingredients. Stir until well mixed.

Bake, covered, until the liquids are absorbed, about one hour.

I remove the cover for the last 15 minutes, and put the oven on “broil” for the last 5 to finish the top.

Serve as a side, or as a whole Margaret-style happy meal with brown rice (as up top, no free plastic toy included).

Note: Depending on the age of the lentils and how well they were pre-cooked while simmering, you may wish to add liquid. If lentils are not at desired tenderness shortly before most of the baking liquid is absorbed, add a small amount of water.

possible add-ins or substitutions

  • Sauté a diced sweet potato with the garlic and onions, recommends Serious Eats.
  • Hate using ketchup? (I use a corn-syrup-free organic kind, but still…it’s sugary stuff.) As mentioned, try tomato paste mixed with water to equal ½ cup with a ketchup-like thickness.
  • Like them spicier, or with additional flavors? Adjust your cayenne. Paprika, chili powder and allspice are some of the other barbecue-sauce possibilities I’ve seen elsewhere. Worcestershire is usually recommended, but it’s not strictly vegetarian (contains anchovies).
  • Apple-cider vinegar can be subbed for the balsamic, and is more traditional in BBQ sauce.
  • Instead of maple syrup, some cooks use use brown sugar and extra liquid. Want to limit the sugar? Swap out the ketchup as above for water-tomato paste mix.
February 22, 2013


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